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Mayor: San Diego isn't a 'sanctuary city'

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Posted at 3:42 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 18:56:10-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--Is San Diego a "sanctuary city?"

As recently as January, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said it isn't.

But a recent story of a young South Bay boy sent to the hospital with head injuries after a suspected drunk driver hit his family's car while they were on the way home from Disneyland on Saturday has reignited a debate about why the undocumented immigrant was allowed to be repatriated to Mexico from the U.S. at least 15 times

According to Lauren Mack, spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday that it has lodged a detainer against the suspect, 38-year-old Constantino Acosta Banda "seeking to take him into custody if and when he is released by local authorities to pursue additional immigration enforcement action and/or criminal prosecution."  

Faulconer said the designation doesn't fit because after an arrest a background check is done and information on immigration status is provided to the Feds. Plus, ICE is informed of release dates. 

Cities like San Francisco, which is a "sanctuary city," doesn't share that information. 

"We have a system that works in San Diego," Faulconer told 10News reporter Michael Chen. "We're one of the safest big cities in America, and the reason is we have that police department collaboration with our neighborhoods, with our communities. We work very closely with our federal partners." 

You may remember in July 2015, 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf by an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported five times. Earlier this year, a judge said her family cannot sue the city over its sanctuary policy. 

In 2013, California became the first state to explicitly prohibit local law enforcement from holding people in custody for extra time on behalf of ICE. This is called the California Trust Act

But that is unknown whether the Trust Act affected the suspect in this case since his repatriation history began much earlier. 

As more information becomes available on Acosta Banda's criminal and deportation history, 10News will make that information available to its readers. 

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Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @10NewsSandy