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Pushing the Divide Over Illegal Aliens Wider

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

In a development that’s reflective of the widening chasm of viewpoints on the treatment of illegal aliens in America, a big city mayor, Oakland’s Libby Schaaf, issued a public warning of impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration sweeps.The arrests went forward anyway, netting more than 150, including several wanted for serious and violent crimes.


Acting ICE boss Tom Homan wasted no time in calling the mayor the equivalent of a gang lookout and pointing to the difficulties ICE faces in “sanctuary” jurisdictions like Oakland and San Francisco, saying, “Because these jurisdictions prevent ICE from arresting criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail, they also force ICE officers to make more arrests out in the community, which poses increased risks for law enforcement and the public.”  

Homan is right.  Liberal mayors like Schaaf, ever-willing to see illegal immigrants only as victims, are working harder than ever to poke Washington, D.C., and its law enforcers in the eye.  Today, Schaff is at the epicenter, prodding and testing, claiming moral high ground while ignoring the basic expectations of a sovereign nation and recklessly dismissing the increased risk to ICE agents trying to do a difficult job.

Just across the bay, a dark reality of illegal immigration is entering its next phase.

There, on the touristy Embarcadero three years ago, a beautiful American dreamer named Kate Steinle strolled with her father.  Without warning, she was on the ground bleeding to death and begging him for help – an experience no child or parent should ever have to suffer.

The man responsible for Kate’s death, at the age of 32, was Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a Mexican man illegally, yet consistently, on U.S. streets despite seven felony convictions and five prior deportations.


Garcia Zarate was lined up for yet another removal in early 2015 when transferred by federal authorities to San Francisco to face a local 20-year-old marijuana charge. When that charge was dropped, San Francisco authorities opted to release him pursuant to their sanctuary city policies rather than return him to ICE custody.  Within weeks, Kate Steinle was cut down by a bullet, fired from a gun he was handling, on that San Francisco pier.  

Garcia Zarate’s is a case study in the failure of sanctuary policies that have overspread the country and whose most vocal proponents seem to reside in California.  The Mexican career criminal has more experience with the American criminal justice system than any graduating law school student could hope for.  The cost of investigating his acts; of charging, prosecuting and defending him; and the cost of detaining and imprisoning him if even for all-too-brief periods, has undoubtedly rolled into seven figures, all borne by the taxpayer.His is the face of border insecurity, the face of massive taxpayer expense, and, for innocent Kate Steinle, the face of a grim reaper.

This killer has had all the benefits of the American courts and will get even more in the months ahead.

Rightly hedging the federal government’s bet on whether a San Francisco jury would convict Garcia Zarate of the most serious charges in Kate’s death, the Feds indicted him late last year for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  They guessed right.  In December, the jury acquitted Garcia Zarate of murder and manslaughter charges which, even in California, might have imprisoned him for a long time.  Instead, the criminal illegal was found guilty only of illegal weapon possession and in January, Garcia Zarate, facing a maximum sentence of three years in prison, was sentenced to time served.  


It’s now the Feds’ turn, where a conviction could bring 10-year sentences for each of two counts.  This time, Garcia Zarate will have the federal taxpayer-funded free ride while having his actions defended by talkative attorney J. Tony Serra, who plans to put the president on trial instead of his client.  Serra is already on record saying, “A vote for guilty in the federal case is a vote for Trump,” adding, his client is “being made a martyr to the racist perspective of Trump.”

Serra is wrong.  A vote for guilty could well be a vote for restoration of the rule of law, a vote for justice, a vote to hold a repeat criminal alien accountable for his own actions.  

Regardless of the federal outcome, mouthy Tony Serra and Libby Schaaf will succeed on one front – their twisted views are being heard and are helping push the divide over America’s illegal alien management issues wider.  

Liberal politicians like Schaaf and those in San Francisco who’ve wrapped themselves in the sanctuary policies that put Jose Ines Garcia Zarate back on the street to steal Kate Steinle’s promising life have themselves evaded criminal charges despite their complicity.  They wantonly ignore the potential harm to their own citizens, claiming greater concern about the separation of family members who are unlawfully in the country.For many, that noble notion crumbles with the realization that Kate Steinle’s separation from her family is permanent.  Garcia Zarate will come back; Kate can’t.  


Meanwhile, the attention-seeking Oakland mayor is hard at work widening the illegal immigration divide as she puts federal immigration agents at increased risk.  

Ron Hosko is president of the Law Enforcement Action Network and a former FBI assistant director.  

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