Inmates who face deportation once they get out of federal prison will now be automatically relinquished into the custody of US immigration authorities as opposed to local law enforcement agencies carrying outstanding warrants. The announcement was made on Wednesday by Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.
The change in policy comes less than 12 months after 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot and killed in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had already been deported from the United States on no less than five separate occasions before killing Steinle. But he was allowed back into the community by local police, who had ignored the request to keep him in custody for deportation proceedings made by federal authorities.
The controversial case saw attention focusing on communities that some see as being overly friendly to immigrants, with policies that actually encourage local authorities to ignore federal immigration officials. Vicki Hennessy, the newly elected Sheriff of San Francisco who was sworn into her new position just last month, says she wants to know how the policy is going to be enforced, particularly regarding the kind of inmates that will be picked up by federal immigration officials.
Texas Republican Representative John Culberson says that the change that Lynch has announced as well as additional pressure to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on cities and counties in order for them to be allowed to have access to federal grant funding is vital. “Had that policy been in effect last summer Kate Steinle would still be alive”, he claimed.