The verdict in the shooting death of Kate Steinle gave President Trump a fresh tweeting point Thursday night in his campaign against illegal immigration, and provided a host of conservative politicians and commentators an opportunity to beat up on San Francisco.
“A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration,” the president tweeted after a jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported five times to his native Mexico, of murder and manslaughter charges in the July 2015 shooting of Steinle on Pier 14.
Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, took aim at San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies of limiting cooperation with federal immigration agents.
“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, referring to the decision by the Sheriff’s Department to let Garcia Zarate out of jail rather than hold him for federal immigration agents six weeks before Steinle’s death.
“San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle,” Sessions said.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also chimed in.
“I am disappointed and angry at the not-guilty verdict for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal alien who had several felony convictions & was deported from the US five times,” Cruz said in a tweet. “Justice must be served for Kate Steinle.”
Such reactions were restrained compared with a tweet from Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP candidate for vice president who is still a favorite of many conservative activists.
“Outrageous ‘not guilty’ verdict in murder case of Kate Steinle,” the former Alaska governor tweeted. “The illegal alien who shot her was just given more rights, grace and favor than the devastated Steinle family. San Francisco is NOT a safe place.”
The San Francisco public defenders who represented Garcia Zarate didn’t back away from the political attacks.
“The untimely death of Kate Steinle was a horrible tragedy. That tragedy was compounded when it was used as political fodder for then-candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda,” San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in a statement. “Despite the unfairly politicized atmosphere surrounding this case, jurors focused on the evidence, which was…