Illegal immigration has been a topic of debate in America for years, but focus on the problem was magnified during the 2016 election. Those who argue that illegals are often criminals who escape prosecution have a new example to point to today as Jose Zarate, an illegal immigrant, was found not guilty Thursday in the death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle.
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Jurors found Zarate not guilty in the shooting death of Steinle, which happened in 2015 in San Francisco. The verdict came after six days of deliberation amongst the jurors. Because San Francisco is a sanctuary city, the case reached national news.
Those who argue against the premise of sanctuary cities used the fact that Zarate was three months removed from a prison stint when he killed Steinle, who was walking with her father and a friend when she was shot at a pier.
The federal government had asked that Zarate be deported, or at least detained, after he was released from prison as they claimed he was a danger to society. The state of California refused to cooperate with the federal government on the matter, according to Fox News.
Zarate’s lawyer argued that the entire incident was an accident after the bullet ricocheted from the concrete after Zarate dropped the gun. According to BuzzFeed News, the lawyer told the judge presiding over the case that the defendant was not aware that he was holding a gun until it went off.
Jurors reported that they were torn between downgrading the charge of murder to involuntary manslaughter or giving a not guilty verdict. They ultimately voted to give a not guilty verdict, citing the defense made a tangible argument.
The prosecution argued Zarate knew what he was doing and purposely shot and killed Steinle while “playing his own secret version of Russian roulette.”
San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia tried to persuade jurors to issue a guilty verdict reminding them, “He did kill someone. He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle.” Jurors were apparently not convinced.
President Trump has been trying to create stricter immigration laws and stronger borders only to be met with judges blocking his request. His administration is also firmly against sanctuary cities and has discussed withholding federal aid from them. As of now, the legal battles continue.