The White House tried to dodge questions about whether the Obama administration is partly responsible for the death of a San Francisco woman allegedly shot by a illegal immigrant with a long criminal record, instead blaming Republicans for failing to pass a comprehensive immigration bill.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest first tried to refer all questions about the administration's deportation policies surrounding the shooting death last week of Kathryn Steinle, 32, to the Department of Homeland Security.
But pressed on why the illegal immigrant was allowed to remain in the country after being deported five times, Earnest pointed the finger at Republicans in Congress for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"The president has done everything within his power to make sure that we're focusing our law enforcement resources on criminals and those who pose a threat to public safety," Earnest said. He blamed Republicans for blocking the "kind of investment that we would like to make in securing our border and keeping our communities safe" because they helped kill a comprehensive immigration reform bill that provided a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, as well as "historic" funds for border security.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the Obama administration and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee facilitated the release of the illegal immigrant, Francisco Sanchez, who is on probation in Texas, because they refused to enforce national laws requiring city authorities to turn him over federal authorities.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement had Sanchez in custody in March after his release from federal prison, but turned him over to San Francisco on a drug warrant and asked to be notified if he were to be released.
San Francisco, however, is a "sanctuary" city that chooses not to honor federal requests for notification. The Obama administration has not cracked down on dozens of these cities around the country that are flouting federal immigration laws.
Sanchez told ABC local San Francisco affiliate KGO-TV that he kept coming back to San Francisco because he knew it was a "sanctuary city" that would not actively try to deport him.