Did San Francisco’s sanctuary city ordinance contribute to the senseless shooting death of Kathryn Steinle, 32, as she was out for an evening stroll on Pier 14 last week?

This is a national story, because the federal government released accused shooter Francisco Sanchez to a San Francisco jail in March and the jail released Sanchez to the streets April 15 after the district attorney dropped a 20-year-old charge for marijuana possession. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said he did so in keeping with San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.

Sanchez, 45, told KGO-TV’s Cornell Barnard that he did shoot Steinle: It was an accident. Sanchez had been convicted of seven felonies, four drug-related, and deported to his native Mexico five times. He clearly believed he could break immigration and drug laws with impunity, and did.

He said he was aware of San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.

When this story broke last week, one question nagged at me: Why would the feds release a career criminal on an old marijuana charge to San Francisco, instead of deporting him? If a thinking law enforcement official spent 30 seconds considering the notion, he or she would have thought better — with 28 seconds to spare.

You could bet money that District Attorney George Gascón would not pursue such a moldy two-penny case, and that the sheriff would release him. In a press release last year, Mirkarimi boasted that a revision he made to his department’s detainer policy “reduced the number of individuals released to ICE authorities by 62 percent. Only one other county in California had a policy of similar strength.”

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