Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a serial illegal Mexican immigrant who had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation, shot young Kate Steinle in the back in 2016. Since this occurred shortly after Donald Trump, announcing his candidacy for President, had decried Mexico “sending us murderers” across the border, Zarate took on the role of Trump’s Willie Horton. Zarate admitted to the shooting, but said that he had just found the gun on the street, and fired accidentally. The jury found him not guilty on murder and manslaughter charges, but he was convicted on a gun charge.
- President Trump, and a lot of media commentators, pronounced the verdict “disgraceful.” The President’s Twitter rant:
The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!…The jury was not told the killer of Kate was a 7 time felon. The Schumer/Pelosi Democrats are so weak on Crime that they will pay a big price in the 2018 and 2020 Elections….A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.
Ugh. The question before the jury was whether Zarate murdered Steinle, not whether immigration enforcement is too lax, not whether he was a bad guy, not what previous crimes he had committed. The verdict was no more disgraceful that O.J.’s acquittal, George Zimmerman’s acquittal, Casey Anthony’s acquittal, the acquittals in the Freddie Gray case, or any other acquittal where the prosecution does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Nobody not on the jury or the courtroom has any basis or justification to attack the verdict.
The President’s comments are embarrassingly ignorant or dismissive of the basic principles of our criminal justice system.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ statement following the verdict was better, but still wrong:
“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.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. 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.”
This “but for” argument is a “Back to the Future”/”Terminator” con. The fact that it was Zarate who picked up an abandoned gun that discharged and killed Steinle—this is what the jury concluded—and not a Cub Scout, a fumble-thumbed bank teller, a stoned gay guy or Pablo Sandoval is 100% moral luck. Yes, if Zarate was in Mexico—or Iowa—Steinle might be alive today. Or maybe not. Also if the US gave more aid to Mexico and it wasn’t such a hell hole that its citizens keep coming here illegally, she might be alive. Maybe if Zarate’s mother had been killed by an android from the future before she met Zarate’s father…
The reason to enforce immigration laws is that they are important laws and should be enforced. Steinle’s death and Zarate’s acquittal don’t affect those facts one way or the other. Continue reading