IMAGINE, IF YOU will, the following scenario: You’re out for a walk with your child. It’s a nice day. All is well. And then in an instant, your world is torn apart as your child is shot by a gunman right before your very eyes. She is rushed to the hospital, and two hours later, she slips away from this world.
There’s the initial grief. Next, there’s the anger over the knowledge that someone took your child’s life. That becomes insatiable rage when you learn the shooter was not only a convicted felon who had been released from custody but was also an illegal alien who had already been deported — five times.
This nightmare scenario may sound far-fetched, but for Kate Steinle’s parents, it’s their reality. In July, 2015, her father was walking with her on San Francisco’s Pier 14 when she was gunned down by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. Sanchez had been convicted seven times in the United States and deported five times, yet he was allowed to walk the streets of San Francisco the day he murdered Kate Steinle. Why? Because while Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security had asked the city to hold him until they could pick him up, the city, which has declared itself a “sanctuary city,” decided to ignore the request and let him walk free.
Sanchez should not have been in our country or allowed to walk our streets. Unfortunately, there are more individuals like him. Sarah Root was struck and killed by the driver of a vehicle who was part of a street race in Omaha. The driver, Eswin Mejia, was in the country illegally and had a blood-alcohol limit three times the legal limit. He was released on bail and was never seen again. Grant Ronnebeck from Phoenix was working at a gas station when he was shot and killed over a pack of cigarettes by Apolinar Altamirano, who was also here illegally. He had been in custody two years before but was released on bail.
For years, the lax enforcement of our immigration laws combined with the intentional resistance by sanctuary city jurisdictions to cooperate with federal authorities has undermined our safety, security, and sovereignty. These deaths were preventable. That is why in Congress I co-sponsored two bills that passed the House of Representatives in June. Together, these bills will hold those who flout our immigration laws accountable and bring justice to those who have been victimized because of it. It’s also why I’ve made clear that if elected as Ohio’s next governor, I will use every tool that I have to ensure that Ohio fully complies and cooperates with federal immigration enforcement agencies — including withholding state funds from any sanctuary jurisdiction in Ohio.
The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act prohibits sanctuary jurisdictions from implementing policies and laws that forbid cooperation with immigration and law enforcement entities. States, cities, and localities who do not comply with federal immigration laws will lose certain federal funding and grants available through the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department. Jurisdictions which do not honor ICE’s detainers and release an alien who goes on to commit a murder, rape, or felony can be sued in court by the victim or their families. Illegal aliens convicted of drunken driving and other dangerous crimes can be detained during their removal proceedings if they pose a flight risk.
Kate’s Law, named after Kate Steinle, enhances existing maximum sentences for illegal re-entry into the United States. These sentences escalate dependent upon the illegal alien’s criminal history and can range from 10 to 25 years in federal prison. Deported felons must know that if they choose to break our immigration laws yet again, then we will keep them off our streets and out of our communities.
I am proud to have co-sponsored these bills and to see them pass the House. And I will be just as committed to this critical issue as Ohio’s next governor.
Regardless of your views on immigration reform, we should all be in agreement that those who are in our country illegally and are among the worst criminal offenders should not be free to place others in harm’s way.
By strengthening and enhancing existing laws and penalties, as well as providing recourse for those who suffer because of the actions of sanctuary jurisdictions, we can work to prevent future stories such as these and make sure justice is served.
U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R., Wadsworth) represents Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. He is a candidate for Ohio governor.
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