This seems certain to generate some problems for Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign for the White House. Earlier this month, CNN’s Kfile reported that when Harris was San Francisco’s district attorney she supported a policy that would turn juvenile illegal aliens over to ICE if they had been arrested for a felony. This week, when Harris was asked about that CNN report, she “mischaracterized” her prior position:
“Could you kind of give us some insight on how, from that time, when for whatever reason you were supporting this policy that was essentially handing over undocumented people to ICE before they had been convicted to now — kind of what’s changed on that and how you came to those changes?” the questioner asked Harris.
Harris responded, “That ended up being an unintended consequence of the policy and I did not support that consequence of that policy. And that policy I believe has since changed because it was not the intended purpose of that policy. I’ll say this, and I feel very strongly about it, and I always have, which is this, my background is as a prosecutor and I want to know that a person, a victim of a rape or a child molestation, or a vicious violent crime, I want to know that that victim will be able to run in the middle of the street and wave down a police officer and receive protection and security without having to worry about if they do that they will be deported.”
But as CNN points out, there was nothing “unintended” about the policy change that Harris supported. Here’s what happened. San Francisco was already a sanctuary city when Harris became the city’s DA. However, there was an exception added to the sanctuary law which allowed adults arrested for felonies to be reported to ICE. However, juveniles were exempt from that. And then there was an awful triple homicide which made news in the city:
This policy came under scrutiny in 2008 when a 21-year-old undocumented man named Edwin Ramos was arrested for murdering three members of a San Francisco family.
After the news of the Ramos murders — and his previous arrest records — was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsom announced a change in the city’s policy so that police would begin reporting arrested undocumented juveniles to ICE, regardless of whether they had been found guilty in court of any crime. Ramos had previously been arrested as a youth at 17 and was found guilty of attempted robbery and assault, but he was never reported to federal immigration authorities…
Harris supported Newsom’s policy change and issued a statement that the original sanctuary law “was never intended to shield anyone from being held accountable for a crime. It’s intended to encourage immigrant victims and witnesses to report crimes without fear of reprisal so we can hold offenders accountable.”
Edwin Ramos was actually an MS-13 member. In addition to the felony conviction for attempted robbery, an MS-13 leader turned FBI informant told the FBI in 2006, two years before the triple-murder, that Ramos had already committed a murder.
An informant told the FBI in 2006 that Edwin Ramos had killed a gang rival in the Mission District, records show, raising questions about why Ramos wasn’t taken off the streets before his infamous slaying of a man and his two sons in San Francisco in 2008.
Documents filed in a separate San Francisco murder case say Jaime Martinez, a leader of the MS-13 gang who became a paid government informant – and whose niece was once married to Ramos – met with FBI agents in April 2006.
Two years later, Ramos murdered a man and his two sons, apparently because of a traffic dispute:
Edwin Ramos, 21, of El Sobrante is charged with three counts of murder and other crimes in the slayings Sunday in San Francisco of Tony Bologna, 48, and sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16…
District Attorney Kamala Harris has previously said she would never seek the death penalty, and she has not done so since taking office in 2004. Tony Bologna’s widow, Danielle Bologna, has urged her to seek capital punishment in this case.
After losing her husband and two of her sons, Danielle Bologna sued the city claiming the sanctuary policy was responsible for the death of her family members but a judge tossed the case out in 2010:
The family of a father and two sons who were shot dead on a San Francisco street in 2008 can’t hold the city responsible for failing to turn their alleged killer over to immigration authorities after earlier arrests, a judge has ruled.
The city isn’t legally to blame for any crimes Edwin Ramos, a suspected illegal immigrant from El Salvador, committed after his release for the offenses he committed as a juvenile, Judge Charlotte Woolard of San Francisco Superior Court said Monday.
Cities “generally are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime,” Woolard said.
She dismissed a damage suit by the widow and daughter of Tony Bologna, 48, who was shot to death in his car near the family’s home in the Excelsior district in June 2008. His sons Michael Bologna, 20, and Matthew Bologna, 16, were also killed.
Given the circumstances here, the policy change initiated by Mayor Newsom sounds entirely reasonable. Why should a gang-member convicted of serious crimes at 17 (and accused of murder) be shielded from deportation by San Francisco? But of course, Harris is running for the Democratic ticket so she’s right to predict a backlash. That’s why she’s trying to distance herself from it now.
The real problem with all of this is that Sen. Harris prior position is not so different from President Trump’s current position. Trump has devoted time and energy to citing MS-13 as a threat created by our immigration policies and to elevating the parents of people killed by illegal immigrants. The fact that Harris seems to have once agreed with his position is not going to help her win the party’s base.
This Fox News clip featuring Megyn Kelly and an emotional Danielle Bologna is from 2008: