Rending the Fabric of Truth in the Steinle Case

By Dan Cadman on July 9, 2015

In modern America, all of us are accustomed to elected and appointed political leaders spinning, bending, and manipulating the truth in order to score points or shape public opinion.

But there are limits to the credibly do-able, and with all of the finger-pointing in the wake of Kate Steinle's murder at the hands of an illegal alien, it's clear that the fabric of truth has been stretched so far as to have been rent asunder by San Francisco officials' attempts to evade moral responsibility for the tragedy and direct it at somebody else. Here are some of the whoppers that have been told:

"No legal basis". The city attorney and the counsel for the San Francisco City-County Sheriff (who released the alien prior to the murder, rather than honor an immigration detainer) have claimed there was no legal basis to hold him. First, that assertion overlooks the fact that it was agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who turned the alien over to them in order to be able to clear their own open warrant against him for a drug charge (later dismissed). ICE agents had already established probable cause of an immigration violation — that's the reason they arrested him — and had every legal expectation to get him back when San Francisco finished with him.

Second, some media sources indicate that the sheriff's office may have held the alien for as much as two weeks in custody after drug charges were dismissed so that they could find out whether he had finished a prior federal prison sentence (which, by the way, was for the immigration offense of reentry after deportation). If that "no legal basis" assertion is true, what gave them the right to hold him after dismissal for any other reason or any other federal agency?

By the way, irony of ironies, if the federal Bureau of Prisons had indeed wanted the alien back, they would have filed a detainer with the sheriff's office to do so, under the terms of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers. Presumably the sheriff's office is smart enough to know that, although one wonders, given the abysmal judgment and competence level they've shown throughout this affair.

"The law requires a warrant or court order". San Francisco Sheriff Mirkarimi has repeatedly asserted that to honor the detainer, the law required that ICE present him with a warrant or court order, in addition to a detainer. It's important to ask whose law requires that? Well, it's not in the federal statutes, which make clear that immigration officers can arrest with or without a warrant. (See 8 U.S.C. Section 1357(a) for the latter.) Turns out Mirkarimi is talking about a local ordinance passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. It is very well settled that local laws never, do not ever, preempt federal law. The reason for this is, or should be obvious: If states and localities were permitted to trump the federal constitution and laws, we would cease to function as a republic and the various governments would act more like squabbling, balkanized, third-world mini-states at the expense of the people and of the rule of law (as should be evident from the Steinle murder). I'm sure the sheriff's counsel and the city attorney know and understand the preemption principle; at least they do if they actually have law degrees.

But let's face it: the reason the supervisors passed the ordinance in the first place was to attempt to frustrate execution of federal immigration laws, not to facilitate them. It's just that they were so myopic they couldn't recognize the cold hard reality that something like Steinle's murder was bound to happen, as it has several times elsewhere.

"Republicans are to blame for not passing immigration reform". This is by far the most egregious excuse so far, and it's attributable to White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest, whom one would think might want to be a bit more careful with the truth when such a sensitive subject is invoked. The infamous Schumer-Rubio "immigration reform" bill introduced and passed by the Senate as S. 744 — and stymied by House Republicans, thank the heavens — would have done no good, and in fact perpetrated greater harm to the security of American communities.

No one even remotely familiar with Schumer-Rubio, known colloquially as the "Gang of Eight bill", could possibly reconcile Ernest's statement with any objective reality. My colleague Jessica Vaughan is quoted in a recent article in which she enumerates a number of ways that bill actually fostered sanctuary cities, rather than curbing their abuses at the expense of public safety. Even the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected the bill would fail at curbing illegal immigration and fostering border security.

But the bill went further than just granting a broad-based amnesty. Tucked inside it were insidious provisions that would have made aliens with multiple misdemeanor convictions nonetheless entitled to amnesty. Keep in mind that not all of the illegal aliens inappropriately released who went on to commit murder were prior felons — many have had a string of misdemeanor convictions that follow them around the country as they drift from place to place. In fact, the bill went so far as to assert that no matter how many misdemeanors were racked up on a single day, they would be treated as a single conviction for purposes of forgiveness.

The bill also protected aliens caught in the snares of immigration or border patrol agents after enactment, even if pretty much apprehended at the juncture of illegally reentering the United States after deportation, because there were forgiveness provisions for those individuals as well if they were "otherwise" eligible to apply for amnesty. It's instructive to remember that statistics for the past several years of apprehensions, both in the interior and at the border, tell us that one in four arrests relate to a previously deported alien. Does anyone doubt that if caught in the midst of reentering, or after having done so, all of them would lay claim to be eligible for amnesty?

So Mr. Ernest's nonsensical assertion that the likes of Kate Steinle's self-confessed murderer would have been kept out by the reform bill fails on all counts.

When considering this matter of reentry after deportation, it's instructive to ponder the case of the illegal alien now under arrest for Kate Steinle's murder, as well as others who have committed similarly heinous offenses. They are vagrants and drifters who float from place to place, often back and forth across the border, with frequent brushes with the law — sometimes minor and sometimes felonious, up to the point at which they commit homicide.

Donald Trump may not be right when he says such individuals are "pushed" out by their governments; it might be more accurate to say that they are social misfits who don't assimilate well into the societies or cultures on either side of the border and so have to keep on the move without regard to boundaries. Those, I think are hallmarks of classic sociopaths. Only in this case, we are talking about foreign nationals. Why would anyone think sanctuary policies are a good idea given the realities of our porous border?