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Funeral to be held for woman slain in San Francisco shooting

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 09 Jul 2015

By Curtis SkinnerSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The friends and family of a woman who police say was fatally shot in San Francisco by a felon living illegally in the United States are set to gather for her funeral on Thursday, as debate raged about immigration policy in the aftermath of her death.Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 45, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in last week's apparently random shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has cited to decry weak U.S.-Mexico border security.The San Francisco Sheriff's Department, which has come under fire for releasing Sanchez after a decades-old marijuana charge against him was dismissed, canceled a news conference scheduled for Thursday to address the controversy out of respect for Steinle's funeral.The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The shooting highlighted a long-standing "sanctuary city" policy in San Francisco, one of several hundred U.S. municipalities that limit assistance to federal immigration authorities, according to San Francisco officials.Such laws were rooted in shielding Central and Southern American refugees from deportation in the 1980s, and court rulings have since cast doubt on whether detention requests from immigration officials without a formal court order are a legal basis for extended detention.U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Sanchez was released from federal prison in March after a felony re-entry conviction, then transferred to the sheriff's department on a drug warrant. Federal officials asked to be notified prior to his release.The sheriff's department said since the charges were dismissed and there was no active warrant or judicial order for Sanchez's removal, the city's policy deemed him "ineligible for extended detention" and he was freed.San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has defended the city's policy as protection for immigrant families, has pounced on the sheriff's department for its handling of Sanchez."There was nothing in [the sanctuary city policy] that prevented our Sheriff from picking up the phone," Lee told reporters on Wednesday. "Do I need to educate somebody about how to pick up a phone'"Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi shot back, telling local broadcaster CBS San Francisco: "The mayor is backing away from the very law that he supported, and he's looking for a scapegoat."The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mirkarimi's office had gone beyond requirements of the city's policy, citing a memo he issued blocking staff from giving immigration officials "information or access" to detainee records, including release dates.(Editing by Eric Walsh)Join the conversation about this story
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