White House officials called on Congress Friday to pour more funding into border security after a jury found an illegal immigrant from Mexico was not guilty of murder or manslaughter, though he fired a gun that killed a young American woman in 2015.
"Yesterday’s verdict in San Francisco underscores the danger to public safety when our nation fails to enforce its laws," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Friday. "Kate Steinle was killed by an illegal immigrant and convicted felon who had been deported from the United States five times. He, and countless other criminal illegal immigrants like him, should never be allowed to threaten our citizens."
Steinle's death in San Francisco in 2015 sparked a heated debate about so-called sanctuary cities, or jurisdictions that decline to share information between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the undocumented immigrant accused of fatally shooting Steinle, had been deported on five times before he shot Steinle on a public pier. His defense attorneys argued the bullet from his gun had struck Steinle by accident after bouncing off the ground.
Steinle became the face of opposition to sanctuary city policies, as critics argued Zarate would not have been walking the streets if San Francisco police had honored an Immigration and Customs Enforcement request by handing him over to federal authorities.
"It’s more important now than ever for Congress to secure our borders and provide the resources, including more ICE officers, needed to deport criminal illegal aliens and to finally stop sanctuary city policies that cause needless loss of innocent life," Sanders' office said in a statement on the Steinle verdict. "Politicians who fail to address these needs share responsibility for preventable crimes committed against innocent Americans."
"Had San Francisco enforced our nation’s immigration laws, the Steinle family would be celebrating this holiday with all of their loved ones," Sanders added.
President Trump frequently invoked Steinle's story on the campaign trail when advocating for stricter immigration laws and the need to build a wall along the southern border.
Trump expressed his frustration with the jury's decision to acquit Zarate of the most serious charges against him, and argued on Twitter that the verdict represented a "complete travesty of justice."