Jose Antonio Meade

Mexican secretary of state Jose Antonio Meade discusses illegal immigration at the San Francisco Chronicle in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle (Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle)

By Carla Marinucci
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Updated: July 22, 2015 8:56pm

After weeks of presidential candidate Donald Trump lobbing sharp criticism and insults at America’s southern neighbor, Mexico’s secretary of state delivered his country’s first response Wednesday, saying that Trump’s views are rooted in prejudice and “have no place in politics.”

José Antonio Meade Kuribreña broke his government’s silence on Trump’s charge that Mexico is sending criminals and rapists across the border and on the shooting death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco earlier this month by a Mexican immigrant who had no legal status. Meade Kuribreña called her death a tragic and “random act of violence” that should not “be used to drive” immigration policy in the United States.

In an interview with The Chronicle editorial board, Meade Kuribreña said Trump’s statements “are colored by prejudice, racism — or just plain ignorance — that’s not a good and positive sign. Any combination of the three does not help the debate, does not help politics.” Even after his remarks on Mexico, Trump is leading the field of 16 candidates in the GOP presidential race.

On the Pier 14 killing of Steinle — Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican with a string of felonies and deportations, has been charged with murder in her death — Meade Kuribreña said: “Our hearts and our prayers go out to the family of Kate Steinle. … The taking of life of a young woman is really tragic. But what’s even a worse tragedy is trying to make that an element in a policy debate.

“It was a random act of violence that could have been committed by anyone,” he continued. “We don’t think it should be used to drive policy — regardless of who the perpetrator was, we don’t think that it is an indication, in general, of trends in immigration.”

Calls S.F. policy beneficial

Asked about his view of San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, which limits the authority of the Sheriff’s Department to honor requests from federal immigration officials to hold suspects beyond their scheduled jail release, Meade Kuribreña said overall it was beneficial to both sides.

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