After a cloudy back and forth between Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and a lawmaker the day before, the department said Wednesday that an official has been in touch with the family of the young woman killed earlier this month, allegedly by an illegal immigrant, on a San Francisco pier.
The confusion began Tuesday when Johnson was asked by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, during a Capitol Hill hearing if the administration had reached out to the family of Kathryn Steinle.
Johnson initially asked: "To who?"
Chabot clarified he was talking about 32-year-old Steinle, who was killed in San Francisco, allegedly by an illegal immigrant who had a lengthy felony record and had been deported several times before. Asked again if the administration was reaching out, Johnson said: "I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to that question, sir."
Johnson, who had spoken about Steinle’s case earlier in the hearing, later told Fox News he couldn’t hear the question.
“In fact, he referred to the case several times in testimony earlier during the hearing, and even referred to Ms. Steinle by name prior to the exchange with Rep. Chabot,” a spokeswoman from the DHS said in a written statement on Wednesday. “Secretary Johnson asked 'who' because he did not hear what Rep. Chabot was asking."
Tanya J. Bradsher, assistant secretary for DHS public affairs, said Wednesday, though, that after a member of the Steinle family contacted a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, the deputy director of the ICE Field Office in San Francisco "contacted the family member on July 9 and offered condolences and assistance."
She said, "ICE, the Secretary, and the Department of Homeland Security are prepared to offer the Steinle family further support and assistance upon request."
The Steinle family, though, has maintained that nobody from the administration has reached out to them, ever since their daughter's death re-ignited a national debate over so-called sanctuary city policies and immigration enforcement. Murder suspect Francisco Sanchez had been in San Francisco custody but was released in April.
Speaking with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, Kathryn's brother Brad Steinle said "nobody" from the White House or administration has reached out.
"We have not heard a word," he said, adding: "I wish somebody would reach out to us."
But he said much of the blame lies with the city sheriff, who he said also has not contacted him.
"A lot of this lies on his shoulders," he said, explaining, "The system failed my sister in so many ways."
While Johnson told the House Judiciary Committee he'd check on Chabot's request, the DHS secretary stressed that he reaches out to every sheriff or police chief who has had a law enforcement officer die in the line of duty.