The Department of Justice is now considering bringing federal charges against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant who is suspected of killing Steinle in 2015 in San Francisco, a so-called “sanctuary city,” Fox News reported.
Zarate was acquitted of the more serious charges in the case, like murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a deadly weapon. The California jury only found him guilty of the felony charge of possession of a firearm.
The illegal immigrant could spend up to three years in prison for the charge, but he has already been behind bars for more than two years as his case moved through the system.
Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the DOJ, told “Fox & Friends” on Friday the agency is looking into potential charges it could bring against Zarate.
“We’re looking at every option and we will prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law,” she said, “because these cases are tragic and entirely preventable.”
Flores continued: “This is a person who had been deported five times — he knew about San Francisco’s sanctuary policies. This is a person that never should have been on that pier, and Kate Steinle would still be alive.”
In a statement of his own, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized the jury’s decision:
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. San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle. While the State of California sought a murder charge for the man who caused Ms. Steinle’s death — a man who would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city simply honored an ICE detainer — the people ultimately convicted him of felon in possession of a firearm.
Steinle’s death launched a national debate over the policies in “sanctuary cities,” municipalities that limit their cooperation with the federal government when it comes to enforcing national immigration laws.
Earlier this year, Trump signed an executive order blocking “sanctuary cities” from receiving federal funds. A federal judge issued a permanent injunction against the president’s action in November, stalling the White House’s effort to thwart the protection of those living in the U.S. illegally.