LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Some people believe Mayor Eric Garcetti’s stance proclaiming Los Angeles as a welcoming city for immigrants means it’s code for a “Sanctuary City.” Those who have been victims of violent crimes by undocumented immigrants, however, are left asking, “Where’s our sanctuary?”
The debate over sanctuary cities is hitting home for one Southland family.
Jamiel Shaw Sr. doesn’t mince words about his stance on the issue.
His son, Jamiel Shaw Jr. was one of the kids who was going to make it out of a tough neighborhood. A star football player, and a good student who stayed out of trouble.
In 2008, Shaw Jr. was shot and killed by 18th St. Gang member Pedro Espinoza, who was in the country illegally. The high school star athlete was just feet away from the safety of his home.
“We in America, we deserve sanctuary. Where’s my son’s sanctuary? I’m sure he thought his house was sanctuary,” says Shaw.
Since then, Shaw Sr. has been front and center in the fight against sanctuary cities. He’s campaigned side-by-side with Donald Trump, focused on getting undocumented criminals shipped out of the country.
“People, they always say you’re going to separate family,” Shaw says. “Separate family? You wanna know what it feels like to be separated? I have a cemetery. I have a wall.”
But even when undocumented immigrants are deported for committing crimes, some like Francisco Sanchez, continue to find cover in sanctuary cities. Sanchez was deported five times, before he shot and killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle at a San Francisco pier in 2015.
Immigration attorney Brigit G. Alvarez understands the pain of the victims of violent crimes, but feels the animosity towards all undocumented immigrants is misguided.
“The phone at my office has been ringing off the hook because people are so scared,” Alvarez said. “The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are not here to commit criminal activity. They’re here to feed their families.”
Alvarez added that people who are even here legally have reached out in concern about their status.
Still, Shaw says his main focus right now is getting undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes out of the country.