GOP Debate: Bay Area residents weigh in on candidates’ stance on sanctuary cities

By Katie Nelson, San Jose Mercury News

Aug. 07–A significant spotlight shined on the Bay Area during Thursday night’s first GOP debate after moderators raised questions surrounding sanctuary cities and the shooting death of former Pleasanton resident Kate Steinle by an undocumented immigrant.

The question, in a Facebook submission by a man identified as Doug Bettencourt, was whether any of the candidates would defund sanctuary cities and how they felt about legislation originally pitched by Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly known as “Kate’s Law.” That law would require undocumented immigrants who had been deported but returned to the United States to serve a mandatory five-year sentence in federal prison after they were convicted.

Last month, Steinle, 32, was shot and killed by five-time deportee and habitual felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 45, while she was walking with her father and a friend along Pier 14 in San Francisco, police said.

Moderator Chris Wallace gave the question to candidate Ted Cruz, despite the fact that fellow candidate Donald Trump had been the first to take to social media — mainly Twitter — to express his opinion about the incident and call on Sen. Cruz to take a stand against illegal immigrants and sanctuary cities.

“Yes, I support” defunding sanctuary cities, Cruz said. “I authored and filed legislation for Kate’s Law, and just last week tried to get the Senate to pass it. But the leader of our own party blocked it. The problem is that most of our party don’t want to enforce immigration laws.”

Candidate Jeb Bush stated earlier in the debate that he would also do away with sanctuary cities, calling them “tragic.”

“We need to have strategic border control,” he said. “We need to fix (the immigration system) once and for all and have a path for legal citizenship, not amnesty.”

In the Bay Area, residents were split on candidates’ stances on immigration.

“I would definitely support a candidate that supports (Kate’s) Law,” Clayton resident Karla Tomaszewicz said. “If there is an illegal immigrant that has an issue with crime or gets put in prison, I think ICE needs to know about it and cities should tell ICE to check it so something doesn’t happen like with that young lady in the city.”

“If there was something set up so people could come here legally, go through the process of doing it, that’s totally OK,” she added. “But I don’t think people should just come over here.”

Alameda County resident Lynnda Tozier said wants to see a candidate with a moderate stance on immigration..

“I am looking for something in between amnesty and the process for citizenship,” she said. “I don’t mind them coming over.”

Contact Katie Nelson at 408-920-5006 and follow her at


(c)2015 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

pdf_rtf_top mobile-amservice-logo