Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that blame for Kate Steinle’s death lay at the feet of San Francisco, and he urged sanctuary cities across the country to rethink their policies in the wake of Thursday’s verdict in the trial of her illegal immigrant killer.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges but found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Garcia Zarate had been deported five times and the federal government was seeking to deport him a sixth time when he was instead released by San Francisco authorities under their sanctuary policy restricting cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public’s safety at risk,” Mr. Sessions said. “San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle.”
He said the killing and the verdict should be a wakeup call to other sanctuaries.
“I urge the leaders of the nation’s communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers,” Mr. Sessions said.
He’s leading a nationwide push to withhold federal grant money from jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE.
Tom Homan, the deputy director of ICE, called San Francisco’s sanctuary policy “a blatant threat to public safety.”
He vowed to have officers arrest Garcia Zapate after the California case is over, and deport him to Mexico.
“It is unconscionable that politicians across this country continue to endanger the lives of Americans with sanctuary policies while ignoring the harm inflicted on their constituents,” Mr. Homan said.
San Francisco still maintains a sanctuary policy, and has gone to court to battle Mr. Sessions.
Mr. Garcia Zapate’s lawyers on Thursday said the acquittal on all of the serious charges against their client was a stand against the Trump administration.
“Today is a vindication for the rights of immigrants,” said Francisco Ugarte.