ICE: Church murder-spree suspect was protected by California sanctuary city; Police Chief is ticked

The Washington Times:

Police Chief Eddie Garcia said “…if any of the three detainer requests ICE had placed on Mr. Lopez-Garcia over the last couple years had been honored, he could have been removed from the streets.

A shocking violent attack at a California church has local leaders demanding a rethink of sanctuary policies Wednesday after the suspect was revealed to be an immigrant with a lengthy criminal record and multiple deportation requests from ICE, all of which were refused.

Fernando De Jesus Lopez-Garcia, who is in the country illegally, had a nearly 15-year rap sheet including disturbing the peace, lying to police, resisting arrest, assault with a deadly weapon and felony domestic violence.

In just the last two years, jail officials in two different counties ignored three detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including one as recently as June.

On Sunday, police say, Mr. Lopez-Garcia was free on the streets and likely high on methamphetamine when he stabbed five people at a Baptist church that also runs a homeless shelter in San Jose. He now faces two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said it’s the latest violent attack by someone who could have been deported by ICE, but was instead protected by local sanctuary policies.

“How many incidents does it take? How many lives does it take to institute some change?” he demanded at a press conference Wednesday.

California has one of the country’s marquee sanctuary policies, severely limiting cooperation with ICE, but Santa Clara County’s restrictions go even further.

California has one of the country’s marquee sanctuary policies, severely limiting cooperation with ICE, but Santa Clara County’s restrictions go even further.

Chief Garcia said that because of Mr. Lopez-Garcia’s criminal record, state law would have allowed local authorities to notify ICE of his release. Under the county’s even stricter policy, however, local authorities are prohibited from tipping off ICE.

So ICE wasn’t notified of Mr. Lopez-Garcia’s release in June after his latest domestic violence case.

“Here we have catastrophic proof of the abject failure of California’s sanctuary policies,” said David Jennings, director of ICE’s deportation operations in its San Francisco field office. “The only person this policy protected was a criminal; permitting him to reoffend over and over again.”

He said if any of the three detainer requests ICE had placed on Mr. Lopez-Garcia over the last couple years had been honored, he could have been removed from the streets.

“These are deaths that likely could have been prevented had local law enforcement cooperated with ICE,” Mr. Jennings said.

Local officials said there were other opportunities beyond deportation to stop the stabbings.

Better services for the homeless — Mr. Lopez-Garcia himself was “unhoused,” as were several of his victims, local officials said — and more readily available drug treatment might have helped.

So, too, would a less lenient criminal justice policy, said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Mr. Lopez-Garcia was arraigned in June on misdemeanor domestic violence charges, at a time when he was already on probation for a felony domestic violence charge. Prosecutors argued he should be kept behind bars pending trial, but the judge released him without bail.

Read more at The Washington Times

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