Kate Steinle Day

By Mark Krikorian on July 1, 2016

One year ago today, Kate Steinle was killed in San Francisco by a previously deported felon protected by that city's sanctuary policies. In the interim, neither Congress nor the administration has done anything to rein in these acts of nullification by states and localities against federal immigration law.

That may change next week, when the Senate is expected to vote on Kate's Law, introduced last year by Ted Cruz and championed by Bill O'Reilly. The bill would establish mandatory minimum sentences for illegal aliens who, like Steinle's killer, re-enter after having been formally deported. There's nothing wrong with the bill, but it's mainly symbolic — reentry after deportation is already a felony and the problem is that Obama's Justice Department seldom prosecutes offenders. A more useful approach is contained in another bill possibly up for a Senate vote next week, sponsored by Pat Toomey, to cut off funds from sanctuary cities. Even if Harry Reid were to allow such a bill to pass, and Paul Ryan did likewise, Obama would veto it, but at least that would help clarify the stakes in November.

Steinle's death was only one of many caused by the failure of immigration enforcement. (The Remembrance Project preserves their memory.) Sarah Root was killed by a drunk-driving illegal-alien "unaccompanied" "minor" from Central America, who was released on bail after ICE refused to take him into custody because he didn't meet Obama's enforcement priorities. He has since disappeared. The four senators from Iowa (where Root was from) and Nebraska (where the killing occurred) have introduced "Sarah's Law" to mandate ICE detention in cases involving death or serious injury.

But a series of eponymous laws won't fix the basic problem — an executive that rejects the validity of immigration law, seeing it as only to be used when other, "real" laws have also been violated. CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan reports on the consequences of this lawlessness; the latest numbers show that more than 900,000 aliens ordered removed from the United States are still here and at large, including more than 170,000 convicted criminals.

Amnesty gadfly Rep. Luis Gutierrez summed up the Democrats' approach to immigration enforcement when he dismissed Steinle's killing as "a little thing" ("una cosa pequeña") in an interview with Spanish-language media shortly after her death. The anti-borders crowd's unshakeable opposition to deportation extends even to criminals. Their motto seems to be "better 100 criminal aliens go free than one non-criminal illegal alien accidentally be deported.