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Killing roils immigration debate

The Hill

The fatal shooting of a San Francisco woman in a popular tourist district, allegedly by an illegal immigrant with a long criminal record, has intensified the debate over immigration on Capitol Hill.

It has also focused attention on the issue of “sanctuary” cities that do not cooperate with federal officials on deportations.

Top lawmakers in both parties claim the tragic incident bolsters their divergent approaches to immigration reform — one of the thorniest issues in Washington.

Republicans have pounced, accusing the Obama administration of a failure to enforce deportation policies and other immigration laws.

They’ve scheduled hearings and highlighted legislation designed to discourage sanctuary statutes, which prevent local authorities from assisting federal immigration efforts.

Democrats have countered that criminal offenders would be easier to deport if Congress would pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill — legislation opposed by House Republicans.

At the same time, several Democrats on Tuesday sought to distance themselves from San Francisco’s sanctuary law.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) issued a statement calling on California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to investigate whether state law was followed and whether it needs to be strengthened to ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen.

“For decades, I have supported deporting violent criminals, and I have always believed that sanctuary should not be given to felons,” she said.

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