Attorney General Jeff Sessions attacked sanctuary cities late Thursday night after an undocumented immigrant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, was acquitted of the 2015 murder of 32-year old Kate Steinle by a San Francisco jury, a case that was a favorite rallying cry for President Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party’s platform.
“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,” Sessions said in a statement.
The Superior Court of San Francisco found Zarate not guilty of first or second-degree murder or assault with a firearm. However, the court convicted him of being a felon with a firearm.
“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,” Sessions said.
Sessions urged lawmakers and cities to “consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers.”
The Hill added:
The attorney general has been among several Trump administration officials to invoke the Steinle case in blasting sanctuary cities, which refuse to help federal authorities enforce immigration law.
President Trump, Sessions other Republicans invoked Steinle’s case as an example of the need to beef up border security and crack down on illegal immigration.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez, speaking after the verdict was read Thursday in California, said the jury heard the evidence in the case and their verdict “should be respected.”
“For those who might criticize this verdict – there are a number of people who have commented on this case in the last couple of years; the Attorney General of the United States and the President and Vice President of the United States,” Gonzalez said, according to a local CBS affiliate.
“Let me just remind them: they are themselves under investigation by a special prosecutor in Washington D.C. and they may soon avail themselves of the presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, so I ask that they reflect on that before they comment or disparage the results of this case.”