The mayor and police chief of San Jose, Calif., are pressing to have Santa Clara County’s “sanctuary city” policy revised after an illegal alien deported several times went on a stabbing spree that left two people dead and three injured.
Mayor Sam Liccardo and Police Chief Eddie Garcia have sent an appeal to county officials regarding the sanctuary policy for the second time in just over a year, according to the San Jose Spotlight.
The suspect, Fernando Lopez, is alleged to have stabbed several people at Grace Baptist Church’s homeless shelter Nov. 22. Four of the victims were homeless while the fifth was a city employee and volunteer at the shelter.
“Currently, the Santa Clara County policy prohibits responding to immigration detainers, which allowed the suspect to be released,” Garcia said during a news conference a few days later. “I received the question, ‘What could have prevented this tragedy?’ I won’t point to a single thing, but rather a multitude of tools and opportunities that were not utilized or failed.”
But County Executive Jeff Smith told the outlet that the assessment of the situation by the police chief and mayor was premature while accusing them of politicizing the murders to advance an anti-immigration agenda, calling Garcia and Liccardo “unprofessional.”
“This sort of popped up out of the blue with them — basically trying to take advantage of a horrific double-murder, trying to promote their political agenda, which has been talked about, numerous, numerous, numerous times,” Smith said.
“I think it’s extremely unprofessional. Obviously, with a murder like this, there are many factors that contributed to it. It’s not just the immigrant status. It’s not just methamphetamine use. It’s not just homelessness,” he added.
The local report said Lopez was staying at the church shelter. Garcia suspects that he could have been under the influence of drugs based on statements from witnesses to the attacks.
Liccardo says he wants the county to alter its sanctuary policy so county jailers are allowed to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents before they release illegal aliens who have a history of violent criminal acts.
“As I publicly advocated in 2015, and again in 2019, in those very rare circumstances where an undocumented offender has a record of violent or serious prior convictions, the county should be acting in accordance with the state’s Values Act and notifying ICE that a person will be released out into the community,” he said, the Spotlight reported.
But Smith said there won’t be any changes to the county’s policy while adding that it is unlawful for anyone to be detained simply because of their immigration status.
In 2019, county elected officials refrained from changing the policy even after a public outcry following the locally high-profile murder of Bambi Larson.
Police arrested Carlos Arevalo-Carranza, then 24, in March 2019 a few weeks after he allegedly entered Larson’s home in the early morning hours of Feb. 28 and stabbed her to death.
Arevalo-Carranza was in the U.S. illegally and had several prior arrests. The murder raised new outcries from the public over Santa Clara County’s policy of ignoring requests from ICE to alert them when illegal aliens are released.
Liccardo said the policy change he and Garcia are recommending aligns with the California Values Act or Senate Bill 54, which allows local police to contact federal authorities regarding illegal immigrants who have been charged with violent crimes.
“The state has set out a balanced approach to both protects our immigrant community and public safety,” Liccardo said. “The county should do the same. The county has had several opportunities to do so, including recent last year after a horrible murder.”
Garcia said Lopez was released from jail by a judge after being arrested on a misdemeanor charge in Santa Clara County before the stabbings. He also said the suspect was on probation for a felony domestic violence conviction in the county as well.
In all, Garcia said, Lopez has been deported three times.