Steinle case reignites immigration debate, resurrects pain of brother's death in Chicago
Brian McCann was forced to relive his pain all over again with the recent verdict in the Kate Steinle case in California.
“As you can imagine, the phone was ringing, emails were in process all weekend,” McCann said after illegal immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty in the 2015 killing of Steinle, feverishly reigniting the debate over immigration policy.
McCann’s brother, Dennis, was killed in 2011 when illegal immigrant Saul Chavez allegedly plowed into him in Chicago while behind the wheel of his black Dodge Neon. The driver later fled to Mexico.
“What we’re going to try to do is pivot and hopefully it will be seared into the consciousness of John and Mary Q Public,” McCann, now a member of Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crimes, said during a recent appearance on the “Chicago's Morning Answer” radio show on WIND. “That’s been our lament.”
Dan Proft, one of the hosts of "Chicago's Morning Answer," is a principal in Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Despite all the recent attention focused on the issues of immigration policy and sanctuary cities, McCann said he finds most Americans have been sort of indifferent, uncaring or not unaware of how serious illegal immigrant crime has become.
“Talking to the average man on the street, they think Kate Steinle was an outlier,” McCann said. “There have been well over 200 murders in last the 12 years, not to mention assault, rapes, and identity thefts, all felonies. The public’s got to get it. I’m praying, hoping maybe we can pivot off this Steinle thing and change a few minds.”
In the case of his brother, McCann said, he and his family had been assured that Chavez would not be eligible for bail.
What McCann didn’t know at the time was that lawmakers were working on a bill to make the county a sanctuary, which ultimately helped lead to Chavez being granted bail and having the chance to flee.
“The Democratic Party, these progressives that run these cities, are a different breed, a different coalition,” McCann said. “They are not the Roosevelt Democrats of my mother and father. It’s a different world and somehow we have to punch through it.”
McCann said he has been in touch with state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), who has formally launched her campaign to take on Gov. Bruce Rauner in the 2018 Republican primary, about working to repeal the sanctuary law if she is elected.
In the Steinle case, jurors convicted Zarate of being a felon in possession of a firearm and he now faces possible deportation proceedings. Authorities noted he has already been deported five different times.
During his run to the White House, President Donald Trump made the Steinle case a rallying cry of his campaign and for his push to construct a wall along the Mexican border.
In the aftermath of the verdict, he has wasted little time speaking out.
"A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case,” he tweeted. “No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration."