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Killing Fields

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

“Sanctuary Cities” are replicating disease like throughout the country. These make-shift communities serve as safe havens for illegal immigrants, with sometimes tragic results. Just ask Jamiel Shaw, a 17-year-old Los Angeles resident, who was recklessly gunned down by a 19-year-old "Sanctuary City" resident named Pedro Espinoza. Espinoza, an illegal immigrant and member of the 18th Street gang, murdered Shaw without reason. Even worse, Espinoza was allowed to seek cover for his murder by hiding out in "Sanctuary Cities."

Espinoza’s motive for killing Shaw was imprinted on the two-letter tattoo that stretched across his neck: "BK." The letters are an acronym for “Black Killer.” In Espinoza’s case, the “B” was crossed out. The crossed out “B” means that he has killed black people. For assassins like Espinoza, part of their gang initiation is to go out and randomly gun down someone who is black. This and similar incidents should never happen, but obviously they do. Espinoza, who was also raised in the American Juvenile system, should have been deported early on due to his run-ins with the law. Instead, he was allowed to seek refuge in a "Sanctuary City."

In many ways, Sanctuary Cities are a threat to our national security. Illegal immigrants should not have a right to stay in America illegally. They should be fined, given a reasonable time to earn citizenship, and monitored or deported. Many legal immigrants will tell you the same. After going through the hard work of earning their citizenship, they recoil at the notion of being associated with such activities. Indeed, legal immigrants consider the “Sanctuary City” phenomenon as a threat not only to their reputations, but also to their communities. They will tell you that illegal immigrants who commit crimes should not be given sanctuary; they should be jailed or deported.

Not surprisingly, California has more sanctuary cities than any other state--over 30. These sanctuary cities are destroying people's lives. Somehow, this fact is lost on California’s Mayor, Antonio Viragosa, who continues to turn a blind eye to the “Sanctuary City” phenomenon. Clearly, Viragosa is playing to his base; after all, Los Angeles has the second highest population of Mexicans behind Mexico City. In fact you will often hear chants from the Mexican community that Los Angeles was stolen from them and that they’re determined to take it back by any means necessary. For obvious reasons, Viragosa will never utter a word likely to offend such a large part of his constituency. Meanwhile, “Sanctuary Cities” continue to give cover to illegal immigrants who should have been rooted out a long time ago.

Sadly, the Shaw family and many other families are facing an uphill battle in their attempts to rid California of "Sanctuary Cities." Their stories need to be heard so that others who live in potential Sanctuary Cities will fight back. In San Francisco, for example, police officers and other city officials are prohibited by a voter-approved ordinance to inquire into anyone’s immigration status. Additionally, the city by the Bay puts no funding or manpower towards enforcing illegal immigration unless legally directed to do so via a warrant or federal mandate.

Obviously the liberal city feels good about these ridiculous policies or they wouldn’t allow for a law that directly led to the senseless murders of Tony Bologna and his sons just a few months ago. Edwin Ramos, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador and a known member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang, gunned down Bologna and his sons, Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16 when Bologna inadvertently blocked Ramos from making a left-hand turn in the Excelsior District of San Francisco. This was not Ramos’ first brush with the law.

The killer was booked on felony weapons charges and for illegal street gang activity earlier this year. But thanks to San Francisco's Sanctuary City status, instead of being reported to federal immigration authorities and deported, Ramos was allowed to roam the streets of San Francisco until his arrest for the Bologna killings.

Almost as bad, San Francisco has recently been taking juvenile illegal immigrant criminals and instead of prosecuting or deporting them, sending them to group homes in neighboring counties without notification. As absurd as these sounds, it’s true. Not only are San Francisco officials not turning over illegal immigrants as federal law requires, but they are spending tax payer dollars to house or monitor these criminals, and worse, putting their own citizens at risk.

There is obviously much debate about how to handle the illegal immigration problem facing America today. But if we can’t all agree that illegal immigrants who commit crimes should immediately be jailed or deported, then we need to bring in federal police to do the job that the Sanctuary City police forces are not allowed to do. Too many innocent people are paying the price so that liberals can win their petty political battles. Unfortunately it might take more incidents like the deaths of Shaw and Bologna before people wake up and demand justice.

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