San Francisco: One Sick Sanctuary City

As is true daily in other sanctuary cities, San Francisco rolled the dice with someone else’s safety, resulting in the murder of Kate Steinle. 

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

In this Tuesday, July 7, 2015 file photo, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, right, is lead into the courtroom by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, left, and Assistant District Attorney Diana Garciaor, center, for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. More than 1,800 immigrants that the federal government wanted to deport were nevertheless released from local jails and later re-arrested for various crimes, according to a government report released Monday, July 13, 2015. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool, File)
In this Tuesday, July 7, 2015 file photo, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, right, is lead into the courtroom by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, left, and Assistant District Attorney Diana Garciaor, center, for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. More than 1,800 immigrants that the federal government wanted to deport were nevertheless released from local jails and later re-arrested for various crimes, according to a government report released Monday, July 13, 2015. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool, File)

The horrific — but likely preventable — death of Kate Steinle at the hands of five-time deported illegal alien and seven-time released felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez should remind us all of the dangerous wages of ignoring the law.


In the upcoming months, the trial of her killer (on parole from Texas authorities and a user of aliases) may well prove a circus of sorts. We will likely hear all sorts of contextualization to explain why either Lopez-Sanchez was not culpable for the shooting, or hardly can be seen as the inevitable result of a quite unhinged policy. Or we will hear that he was just aiming at sea lions and simply missed with one of his three shots. Indeed, already the ubiquitous and often shameless Rep. Gutierrez has scoffed (on Telemundo no less) that the death of Kate Steinle was “a little thing”[1] (una cosa pequeña).

San Francisco, as is true daily in other sanctuary cities, rolled the dice with someone else’s safety, and, in this case, a life was lost.

In a larger sense, we are asked to believe that breaking federal law is a one-time phenomenon for the illegal alien, not often the beginning of habitual legal noncompliance that quickly snowballs into a labyrinth of illegality — all predicated on the crime of entering the U.S. unlawfully. Suggesting that cities with large populations of illegal aliens witness no greater per capita crime rates (and do we know accurately the number of illegal aliens who reside in these supposedly safer cities?) than others is to ignore everyday things like creating false identities, filing fraudulent Social Security numbers, and driving without licenses, insurance and registration. Or are these written off as mere infractions rather than crimes?

By needs, the world of millions of illegal aliens is not one where one reports or counts all criminal activity, or considers reportable the sort of crimes that citizens would pay dearly for (try getting caught with a fake ID, or filing a Social Security number). But if the host country did not have a problem with millions entering it illegally, it certainly has even less than a problem with what follows.

I had the Orwellian experience of driving to the DMV not long ago while listening to a talking head on the car radio sermonize on the less-than-average criminal incidents among illegal aliens. Ten minutes later I queued up in a serpentine line with over a hundred habitual drivers who, as illegal aliens, were there for their first driver’s licenses[2]. In the past, had they broken no law? Was it really a crime yesterday morning when two non-English speakers turned up on my front lawn, in trespass, sitting down waiting “for someone,” while exchanging wads of cash — just hours after my pickup was reported stolen with its registration (address) and the gate and garage clickers? Do such “infractions” happen much to Gov. Brown or Sen. Feinstein?

What we won’t hear from quite liberal people is that their own policies of legal nullification are catalysts for tragedies. Municipal and state nullification of federal statutes also has a shameful American history. It was just such a principle — that local and regional lawmakers could decide that the law of land is not applicable to themselves — that was at the heart of the argument for the Old Confederacy.

If 19th-century South Carolina could unilaterally declare that U.S. law did not apply within its environs, why then not 21st century San Francisco as well? (Apparently San Francisco thinks South Carolina was on the winning side of the Civil War.)

Such contemporary liberal nullification is predicated on the relativist premise that progressive and situational cancellation of law is noble — whereas other, less enlightened states or city rights movements have no business copying their model. Should Billings declare gay marriage illegal inside its city limits , or should Fresno County decide to suspend the Endangered Species Act inside its border, or should Provo announce that the city would summarily deport illegal aliens without notifying federal authorities, San Franciscans would be outraged. They would rightly equate such nullification with secessionism.

Picking and choosing which federal laws to follow — whether or not to file a tax return with the IRS? — leads where exactly? Do those who are caught not filing tax returns statistically have no higher incidence of criminality? And if that were true, what exactly would it prove?

The president early on developed a strange tic of editorializing on local criminal cases — both trivial and fundamental — to squeeze from them a few drops of supposed transcendental wisdom. Professor Henry Louis Gates was briefly detained for the understandable appearance of breaking into his own home. For Obama, that psychodrama prompted a teachable moment about the supposed racial prejudice of police who “stereotype” people of color.

The lethal confrontation between African-American Trayvon Martin and “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman elicited a presidential editorial about the shared racial affinity between the victim and the president. (The president did not include the half-Peruvian George Mesa Zimmerman in such ethnic intimacy.) “Ferguson” is casually dropped as a racial fillip by the president, as if he is unaware that his own Justice Department did not find officer Darren Wilson culpable in the shooting of strong-armed robber Michael Brown, who rushed him. Even Sandra Fluke, in her quest for cosmic justice in campaigning for the federal government to cover her own birth-control expenses, earned a presidential phone call, as warranting her Susan B. Anthony-like struggle.

There was no such outreach concerning the tragic fate of Kate Steinle. Her senseless death, for the president, proves so far not a wake-up call about any dubious government policy or dangerous trend in American social life. He apparently does not believe that arbitrarily suspending federal law is scary (cf. his own executive orders), much less that doing so in the case of convicted felons is only doubly so.

Perhaps the president, who is an advocate of the sort of de facto amnesty that empowered Francisco Lopez, was embarrassed over Kate Steinle’s death, and so kept uncharacteristically mum. Perhaps the ethnic divide this time around was not rich enough to be mined — a felon and shooter of color and an innocent victim without color. Perhaps Obama was afraid that he might say something inane and untoward, in Trayvon Martin style, about the physical resemblance or non-resemblance of the victim to one of his possible offspring. It was this president, remember, who established the principle that, in controversial criminal matters, the chief executive would seek political traction, and thereby has found himself morally wanting through his abject silence in the Steinle case.

Sanctuary cities are secessionist, and predicated on cowardice — and the odds. The elites that draft such laws assume, occasionally erroneously, that they and their own are probably immune from the consequences of their own ideology, given that their schools, their neighborhoods, and their transportation are more likely to be shielded from those who arrive illegally and without any federal audit of their backgrounds. They assume that the law can become negotiable because a rising ethnic political force, frozen in amber, will always supposedly vote along perceived ethnic lines and might reward them for their past nullification, an assumption that, if true for the present, is by no means assured for the future. The cost — legal, criminal, social — of illegal aliens so often falls inordinately upon the middle class Latino community, which is already beginning to resent open borders.

Let us be honest: San Francisco’s legal nullification is not an act of racial blindness and fairness under the law, but one of political pandering, ethnic chauvinism and misplaced liberal narcissism. Finally, imagine if felon, parolee, fraud, and detainee Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had been a non-Hispanic, but a seven-time paroled felon, who had been previously deported, again to take a hypothetical example, back home to South Africa five times for immigration violations — say, someone named a politically incorrect Gert Kruger. Would he have been let go by city authorities and kept shielded from federal officers — given that his release would resonate no politically correct policy, and even might have been interpreted as dangerous to the community and illiberal to boot?

San Francisco has become one sick city.

Unfortunately, I fear we will see just how sick as the saga of the killer Francisco Lopez and the “one tiny thing” of Kate Steinle’s demise winds it way through a sanctuary city’s courts.

URLs in this post:

[1] was “a little thing”:

[2] for their first driver’s licenses:

Copyright © 2013 Works and Days. All rights reserved.

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19 thoughts on “San Francisco: One Sick Sanctuary City”

  1. Let’s watch and hope that the liberals begin eating their own as the law enforcement officers in S.F. have already expressed their displeasure with the multi-starred Chief of Police with a criminal record lies about his actions. Trying to sluff his personal actions in this case off on other agencies is a proven lie and the City Council members act like they are immune from criticism. “Sick city…” is charitable given the price Steinle paid for the ‘sick’ city by the bay with her life. She left more than her heart in San Francisco, she left her life.

  2. Proudly Unaffiliated

    “San Francisco has become one sick city.”

    San Francisco became one sick city a long time ago. This is merely another example of the rot deepening.

  3. Empress Trudy

    How DO the residents of San Francisco cope with the human detritus of being a sanctuary city? Do those who can wall themselves off do that while everyone else is happy to wade through it in the name of tolerance? I ask this because I’m fascinated with the prospect of taking the sanctuary concept to Sacramento and ultimately Washington DC. What better places to have one but at the ground zeros of the very movements that inspired them? Perhaps Obama’s parallel plan of forcing localities to take on poor urban ‘immigrants’ for the sake of Federally imposed ‘diversity’ isn’t always such a bad thing? Of course the idea that Obama can throw state and local zoning laws in the trash will harm many but when Georgetown and Bel Air are home to hundreds of thousands of unwanted poor ex-urban dwellers there but for the grace of Obama on the public dole, maybe the wealthy elite will cry uncle.

  4. Neil Jurgensen

    Telling it like it is. Mexico is not our friend. Our leaders have created a system that rewards illegal behavior and a disregard for law. The millions that are transforming our society are not undocumented– they are using false documents (fraudulent documents). “Wanting to feed their family” is not an excuse for lawlessness. Al Capone wanted to feed his family. So what.
    It’s vote buying, plain and simple, and here in California, we’re at ground zero of the selling out of our nation. We are becoming more like Mexico, instead of Mexico becoming more like the once noble U.S.. Tell me again why I should cherish an alliance with our neighboring country, who exports millions of its poor people to my country, ships millions of dollars of drugs into my country, and fills my neighborhoods with gang members and street vendors. And sends 20 billion back to Mexico in wire remittances. I’ll pay an extra dollar for lettuce, thank you. Illegal is illegal, no matter what NBC or Telemundo says. Ask Mexico how they treat people in their country illegally. Our politicians, and our businesses, our tripping over themselves to capture the Hispanic vote and market, all the while flagrantly ignoring out immigration laws. Our immigration system is not broken. Our law enforcement and political courage is broken.

  5. friends:

    represented a guy on an alien felon re-entry case in yakima, washington. for various technical reasons, e.g., the united states government had shut down, it resulted in a “voluntary departure,” in which he was shipped back to mexico.

    about ten days later, i got a call from the san diego federal defender’s office inquiring about the guy.

    yakima to mexico, mexico to san diego, in less than a week. (he’d been walking around san diego for a bit, before he got picked up again.)

    secure borders. oh, yeah.

    john jay

    p.s. no, he was not a nice fellow. not a rapist, nor a killer. but, not a nice fellow.

  6. Even the widow of the man slain with his sons in SF tried to sue the city in civil court for establishing a climate that led to the crime being committed. The judge instantly dismissed as Kamala Harris asked FOR AND GOT A DEMURER.

  7. That treaty the U.S. is a signatory to mandates that foreign nationals be told they are allowed to contact their consulate or embassy when arrested. It would suggest that any locale making an arrest of a foreign national must ask citizenship or legal residence status. ANY LOCALE!

  8. I hate to say it but when I saw that image of the accused my first thought was that we now need a Lee Harvey Oswald incident.

  9. Just finished reading Stanly Kurtz’s NRO article on Obama’s latest imperial directive: the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation. This Orwellian sounding HUD regulation allows the Executive branch to shuffle around American communities at will and socially engineer them as they please. This is because under the ridiculous standard of ‘Disparate Impact’ any wealthy suburb could be subject to a discrimination lawsuit if it cannot prove it has a perfect mix of all races that are equally represented socially and economically. If Hillary Clinton is elected and these policies are enforced, America may well have crossed the Rubicon.

    When you add Sanctuary cities, open borders, the hysterical reactions to both the police shooting of Michael Brown (“Hands up; Don’t shoot”) and to the Confederate battle flag, a disturbing picture emerges: a political alliance of illegal immigrant and minority voters all primed and ready to reaffirm the “total transformation” of the U.S. in the next election. What are the limits, if any, of this gradual marxist revolution? It certainly has nothing to do with the expedient, but empty, pablum of “there are no Red states or Blues states, only the United States.”

    Perhaps Obama’s utopian vision of “justice” won’t be as benign as the Hope and Change manure he was shoveling in 2008, given what a vindictive radical he has proven to be. Maybe his intentions for his political opponents in the wealthy, mostly white, Republican suburbs will resemble a less bloody, but just as punitive version of Sulla’s proscriptions?

  10. I’m not an attorney, I don’t know who is held accountable, and I’m not sue crazy; but if possible, I would love for someone to sue the city and officials. So preventable.
    Luv you VDH.

  11. Pingback: San Francisco: One Sick Sanctuary City | Newport Mesa Tea Party Patriots

  12. Let’s not forget that the gun used to kill Kate Steinle belonged to a BLM agent. This little detail has mysteriously been forgotten. But I would like to know a few details about the person who the gun was registered or issued to.

    Was the agent a BLM law enforcement person?
    Was the weapon his/her federally issued service revolver?
    Was the gun stolen from a personal or government vehicle?
    Why was the gun not locked in a secure container in the trunk?
    Will the BLM agent be held accountable for allowing this gun to be stolen?
    Are the actions of this agent typical of people who are trained to become agents of the Bureau of Land Management?

    I have a feeling that these questions will never be answered.

  13. The people who run these cities are what Homer Simpson calls “No nothing No it all’s”
    I heard Geraldo Rivera say on TV today that we shouldn’t think that the Iranians negotiating the Nuclear treaty weren’t “Men of good will”.
    These people make me wonder if they’re really stupid and if they’ve never read any history.
    Probably both are true.

  14. Steinle’s death is far from a ‘little thing’, it’s the death of Rep. Gutierrez that would be a ‘little thing’. As for the sanctuary city of San Francisco, this incident is simply one example that swallowing social vomit might lead to an internal moral rot running amok. If the city can ignore federal law, so can we ignore not only federal law but also this city’s law. Run amok indeed. It’s just a ‘little thing’ after all.

  15. San Francisco did not become crazy just this week. In the sixties it had already become disorganized by the abandonment of Christian morals standards. Refusing to uphold Christian moral standards and becoming”tolerant” to intolerable behavior had here the same effect it has everywhere. I lived there and to my shame I was as blind as most others. We sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind.

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