WASHINGTON (AP) — The family of a California woman shot and killed while walking along a San Francisco pier told Congress Tuesday they support changing the laws that allowed her alleged killer to remain in the United States despite being deported several times.
Jim Steinle told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Congress should push forward with efforts to close legal loopholes that currently allow local authorities to decide if they will cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Steinle’s daughter, Kathryn Steinle, was killed earlier this month as she and Jim Steinle walked along a San Francisco pier. The man who allegedly shot her, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, has several felony convictions and had been deported five times before the shooting.
He was last released by authorities in San Francisco, a city with a “sanctuary” policy of minimal cooperation with federal authorities on immigration issues.
Jim Steinle testified alongside several other relatives of people allegedly killed by immigrants living in the country illegally.
Steinle’s killing and the disclosure that San Francisco authorities released Sanchez despite a request from federal officials to keep him in custody prompted an outcry from lawmakers.
The House will take up a bill this week blocking federal funding for jurisdictions that resist turning over immigrants to federal authorities. A similar proposal has been advanced in the Senate, but it’s unclear how far it will go.
Steinle’s father said Tuesday that reform could save lives.
“I feel strongly that some legislation should be discussed, enacted and changed to take these undocumented immigrants off ours streets,” he told lawmakers. “If Kate’s law saves one daughter, one son, a mother, a father, Kate’s death won’t be in vain.”
Associated Press reporter Erica Werner contributed to this report.