The murder of a young woman taking a stroll on a San Francisco pier two weeks ago might have been received by a jaded public as just another big-city homicide, had the man who says he shot her to death not been previously deported five times to Mexico — and had the case not been adopted as a cause célèbre by insurgent Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Trump seized on the fatal and apparently random shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who confessed to pulling the trigger in a jailhouse interview aired on local television, as proof that the candidate’s controversial characterization last month of Mexican border-crossers as criminals and rapists was true, even if studies that go beyond tragic incidents have shown that notion to be false.
“This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately,” Trump said in a statement after Steinle’s death. “This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it. Nobody else has the guts to even talk about it. That won’t happen if I become President.”
As the real-estate mogul has taken off in the polls, Trump’s comments have forced other Republicans, who are still grappling with how best to handle his entry into the race, to weigh in on the San Francisco case. Their position: to oppose local governments that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities, a practice that means different things in different places but is derided by critics as the creation of “sanctuary” cities.
That includes the two candidates from Miami, whose own home county doesn’t fully cooperate with the feds on immigration enforcement.