Could a Tragedy like the Steinle Murder in SF Happen in Conn.’s ‘Sanctuary Cities?’

The killing of 32-year old Kate Steinle allegedly by an illegal immigrant who was deported four times has shined the spotlight on so-called “sanctuary cities”—self-declared safe havens for undocumented aliens. The question arises, could the same or a similar incident that occurred in San Francisco happen in Connecticut’s sanctuary cities? Both New Haven and Hartford have given themselves the designation.

A sanctuary city has no set definition but usually refers to cities that to one extent or another limit their cooperation with federal authorities with respect to illegal immigrants. In the Steinle case, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez was released by city officials who did not notify federal officials who turned him over to the city. San Francisco officials cited the city’s “sanctuary city” status as the reason for not notifying the feds of the release.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez

Alleged murderer Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez

It was with much fanfare—and controversy—that New Haven declared itself a sanctuary city under Mayor John DeStefano. The Elm City began issuing city identification cards to illegals in 2007, the first city in the nation to do so. Shortly after the measure was passed by the board of alderman, the feds raided a number of homes in the city, arresting only five illegals on outstanding warrants.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp says no change will be made to the “sanctuary” status. “New Haven will continue to welcome new residents from other countries and embrace their positive contributions in our community, all in the spirit of the United States’ motto E Pluribus Unum [out of many, one],” Harp said. “The city’s ongoing ‘sanctuary’ status reflects a widespread acceptance of diversity in New Haven, and respects the distinct jurisdictions administered by the federal and local governments.”

Hartford is also a sanctuary city, declared so by Mayor Eddie Perez in 2008. Mayor Pedro Segarra’s office did not immediately return phone calls or email messages.

On the state level, Connecticut is among the most progressive when it comes to illegals. The General Assembly passed laws to grant drivers licenses to them and they are eligible for in-state tuition at state universities. Connecticut has shown credit vision with respect to dealing with illegal immigration.