After the House of Representatives passed a pair of bills related to immigration two weeks ago, one of them dubbed Kate's Law for the woman, Kathryn Steinle, allegedly shot in San Francisco two years ago by previously deported illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, Steinle's family has once again had to express their wish that the case not be exploited by politicians in the ongoing debate over sanctuary cities. Father Jim Steinle tells Chronicle columnist John Diaz, "I don’t know who coined ‘Kate’s Law.' It certainly wasn’t us."
Jim Steinle reiterated the fact that his family was not opposed to sanctuary cities, but said that they did have objections to how then sheriff Ross Mirkarimi took a stand that prohibited all communication between local and federal authorities.
"Kate's Law," which imposes harsher sentences on deported immigrants who re-enter the country illegally, still faces approval in the Senate. Jim Steinle told the Chronicle Friday that he supports the law on the surface on the chance that it might save even one life.
He did not comment on the second House bill, which reinforces what the President's earlier executive order on sanctuary cities already tried to accomplish, which is barring sanctuary states and cities from receiving certain Justice Department and Homeland Security grants, particularly those related to law enforcement and terrorism.
Onetime progressive mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez, who is serving as Lopez Sanchez's public defender, just published his own op-ed about the House bills late last week. He says that "Kate's Law" and the companion bill "have nothing to do with the circumstances preceding Steinle’s death," and he says further that "Had the bill been law in 2015, it would have had no effect on Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, the man accused of causing her death."
Father Jim Steinle bristled at this, because it all seems like conjecture with its own political ends. Gonzalez goes on to defend Lopez Sanchez as "a simple man with a second-grade education who has survived many hardships" and "He risked going to jail so that he could perform a menial job that could feed him." He also argues that the gun that killed Steinle has a well known "hair trigger" and this supports Lopez Sanchez's claim that he picked it up, wrapped in a t-shirt, under a public bench near Pier 14 and it just went off.
In related news from late last week, a court filing by Gonzalez has for the first time publicly identified the Bureau of Land Management agent whose stolen weapon was the one involved in this case. As KQED reports, he is Ranger John Woychowski of Imperial County, and his vehicle was broken into in San Francisco and the 40-caliber Sauer automatic pistol was stolen four days before Steinle's death.
Gonzalez further says that the naming of his House bill after Steinle only further "threatens Lopez Sanchez’s chances of a fair trial."