A jury on Thursday found a Mexican man not guilty of murder in the killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier that set off a national immigration debate two years ago. His lawyers argued it was an accident.
President Trump later signed an executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with USA immigration authorities, a policy that a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked Monday.
Garcia Zarate's immigration status has not played a role in the case presented by prosecutors. The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that all jurisdictions place the safety and security of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens.
Trump has said that Steinle's death, just two weeks after he launched his presidential campaign, is emblematic of the problems in the US immigration system, particularly the continued existence of sanctuary cities where local officials refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
Prosecutors said the verdict was not what they had hoped for, but they respect the decision. "San Francisco's decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle".
He was convicted on the lesser charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. "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".
At trial, Zarate admitted to firing the shot that killed Steinle, 32, but contended that he had picked up a gun underneath a bench on the San Francisco pier and accidentally fired it July 1, 2015.
Garcia Zarate was sitting about 90 feet (27 meters) from Steinle when the gun fired. The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway before it struck Steinle.
Freya Horne, chief legal counsel to the San Francisco County Sheriff, said in a 2015 interview that Garcia Zarate was let go because there was no legal cause to detain the suspect. "No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration", Trump said on Twitter Thursday night, just hours after a jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate.
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Steinle "would still be alive if we had a wall", referring to President Trump's call for the construction of a border wall between the USA and Mexico. Instead of deporting him, federal authorities sent him to San Francisco on a 20-year-old drug warrant for a small amount of marijuana.
In June, the House of Representatives passed "Kate's Law", a measure named for the victim that would increase maximum prison penalties for immigrants caught repeatedly entering the United States illegally.