Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it shouldn’t take long for legislation cracking down on illegal immigration to move forward in the Senate, after a jury found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle, who was killed in 2015 on a San Francisco pier.
“It seems like to me that it wouldn't take five minutes to pass the Kate Steinle bill that passed out of the House with a good vote,” Sessions told Fox News host Tucker Carlson Friday night.
San Francisco, which is a so-called "sanctuary city," allowed Zarate, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, to be released despite a detainer that had been issued from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sanctuary cities limit their ability to comply with the federal government’s initiatives to implement immigration laws.
“It shouldn't take any time to pass additional legislation that would provide greater incentive and greater pressure on cities that are failing to cooperate with the federal government in basic immigration law,” Sessions added. “So yes, I don't see any basis for not moving this and would love to see them move it, they've got the tax bill right now. But as soon as possible, I would like to see this legislation be advanced in the Senate.”
The House passed a measure known as “Kate’s Law” this summer, which would increase maximum prison penalties for illegal immigrants who continue to enter the U.S.
While the legislation has been introduced into the Senate, the 60 votes required to pass have yet to be queued up and there has yet to be a vote.
San Francisco Superior Court jury determined Zarate was not guilty of first or second degree murder, or manslaughter. Zarate was convicted for being a felon possessing a gun, and his sentencing date has not been determined yet. He faces sentences of 16 months to three years in prison.
Zarate had been deported several times and has faced convictions for entering the U.S. again after being deported. After Zarate was acquitted, U.S. immigration officials say he will be deported for the sixth time.
The defense argued that 32-year-old Steinle had been accidentally shot after a bullet bounced off a concrete walkway and then hit Steinle. Zarate said the gun had gone off accidentally, after he had found it wrapped in a t-shirt under a bench.
Prosecutors argued he intentionally aimed for Steinle while “playing his own secret version of Russian roulette.”
The gun had been stolen from the care of a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger just a week prior to the shooting.