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After 3 Children and Chaperone Murdered at Church, CA Lawmaker Aims to Repeal State's 'Sanctuary Law'


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A California assemblyman has introduced a bill to repeal the state's so-called "Sanctuary Law" following the murder-suicide of three children and a chaperone at the hands of their estranged father at a Sacramento church late last month.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-CA 6th District) believes the tragic shooting could be an incentive for change, bringing both Democrats and Republicans together on the issue, KXTV reports. 

David Mora, 39, killed his three daughters, ages 13, 10, and 9, and a chaperone who was supervising his visit with the children. Mora then took his own life during the incident at The Church in Sacramento on Feb. 28.  The church where the killings took place had been Mora's home since he was released in April 2021 after threatening to harm himself and his estranged girlfriend, law enforcement officials said. 

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At the time, Mora was out on bail after being arrested five days earlier on charges of resisting arrest, battery on a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer, and driving under the influence.  He was in possession of an unregistered weapon or "ghost gun" that authorities described as a homemade semiautomatic rifle-style weapon.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Alethea Smock told The Associated Press that Mora was in the country illegally. He overstayed his visa after entering California from his native Mexico on Dec. 17, 2018. But because he overstayed his visa, ICE asked to be notified when he was released from jail after he was arrested in Merced County for assaulting the CHP officer.

The Merced County Sheriff's Office told the AP that under California's so-called sanctuary state law, it does not notify immigration officials about in-custody people who are being released, and ICE was never notified. The 2017 Senate Bill 54 restricts local law enforcement's cooperation with federal officials except when immigrants are accused of very serious crimes.

Grisel Ruiz, supervising attorney for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, argues that Mora's immigration status had no bearing on the murder of the little girls and their chaperone. Ruiz says gun control and domestic violence are the central issues instead.

"Regretfully, we've seen tragic incidents politicized in the past, resulting in misguided policies targeting immigrants, which in turn make it harder for immigrant survivors to actually get the help that they need," she said.

But Kiley told KXTV the murders could have been prevented if it wasn't for the state's sanctuary law. 

"He (Mora) was in the country illegally. Not only that but the previous week, he had been arrested. He'd been arrested for assaulting a police officer, and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) asked about his release because of his criminal history and because he was in the country illegally. But the sheriff's office had to say, 'Sorry, we aren't able to give you that information, because of the Sanctuary State law,'" Kiley said. 

Kiley's bill AB 1708 would remove the restrictions on state and local law enforcement agencies and allow them to share information.

"This bill would require a law enforcement official to cooperate with federal immigration officials and detain an individual, after the individual becomes eligible for release, on the basis of an immigration hold for specified reasons, including when the individual has been convicted at any time of a felony, as specified, or the individual has been arrested and charged with a felony, as specified, and a magistrate makes a finding of probable cause as to the charge," the text of the bill reads. 

"A few weeks ago our community experienced an unspeakable tragedy that could have been avoided if not for harmful policies passed by the California Legislature," Kiley said in a press release. "My prayers are with the family of the victims, this should never have been allowed to happen. We must repeal the Sanctuary State law immediately to prevent avoidable tragedies like this in the future."

Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 54, California already had 35 sanctuary cities with policies in place that prevented police from cooperating with immigration authorities, the California Globe noted. 

Almost a year and a half before the bill's passage by the state legislature, an overwhelming majority of Californians strongly opposed sanctuary city policies, according to a poll conducted by UC Berkeley's Institute of Government Studies which was reported by Berkeley News

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, (FAIR), Kiley's bill AB 1708 has been assigned to a committee but has not been scheduled for a hearing. No similar bill has been introduced in the California Senate. 

CBN News has reached out to Assemblyman Kiley's office and to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center for further comment about the proposed bill. We'll post their responses here as soon as we hear back. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of