Sanctuary and the Death of Kate Steinle

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I’m writing this as a companion piece to Jury Finds Garcia Zarate Not Guilty In Steinle Murder Trial: My Initial Reaction which I wrote and published rather impulsively yesterday.

Okay, I’ve done some reading since then. The New York Times makes a case for about 60 percent of the unauthorized population has been here for at least a decade and that the vast majority of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. (89.9%) having never been convicted of a crime.

Of course there are organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform that say merely crossing the border into our nation without permission is indeed a crime, so by definition, 100% of undocumented immigrants are criminals. However, CNN states that under federal law, a person entering the country without permission for the first time is guilty of only a misdemeanor that is punishable by fines and no more than six months in prison.

It gets dicey if you are found to have entered our country illegally on multiple occasions, particularly after having been deported, but the waters get even more muddy since approximately 45% of undocumented immigrants actually entered the U.S. legally and then stayed after their visas expired.

So what’s up with that pesky immigration law? If the law itself is “racist,” why don’t we just abolish it and have totally and completely open borders so that people from every nation can enter freely and without consequences. Then the U.S. wouldn’t be “racist,” right?

There is a (not so) hidden purpose in the law. A large number of undocumented immigrants work at jobs that otherwise would go unfilled, like as farm laborers and such, but there’s a catch. Since they are in this country without permission and vulnerable to being deported, they can be made to work for much less than minimum wage and otherwise exploited with little or no legal recourse. In other words, a significant portion of the U.S. economy (I’m shooting from the hip on this one so let me know if you can support or refute my assumption with actual evidence) depends on A: having an immigration law and B: allowing undocumented immigrants subject to that law to enter the country (semi) covertly so they can be exploited for cheap labor.

How do sanctuary cities fit into all this? Yes, the short definition of “sanctuary city” is one where the local government including law enforcement deliberately refuses to work with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials in locating and apprehending undocumented immigrants, but what is the benefit of having such communities?

According to CNN, supporters say:

Proponents say that by encouraging members of immigrant communities to work with police without fear of deportation, such policies help authorities improve public safety by helping authorities identify and arrest dangerous criminals who might otherwise go undetected.

“I firmly believe it makes us safer,” San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “We’re a world-renowned city with a large immigrant population. … From a law enforcement perspective, we want to build trust with that population.”

Supporters say such policies are widely supported by police groups such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and chiefs from the nation’s largest police departments because they help communities unite to fight crime.

The same news article presents what the critics of such communities have to say:

“Unfortunately, a lot of cities in this country have decided they don’t want to cooperate with ICE,” Julie Myers Wood, former assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told CNN on Monday. “They think that cooperating with ICE causes them problems with respect to the immigrant community and public safety, but in fact it does exactly the opposite, as we’ve seen here.”

Such policies “ignore the fact that if the illegal aliens were removed from the U.S., they would not be here to become victims, and the predators would be out of the country, too,” Ohio Jobs & Justice PAC, which opposes sanctuary policies, says on its website.

“Sanctuary policies — official or otherwise, result in safe havens (or safer havens) for illegal aliens involved in a variety of criminal enterprises — since their illegal schemes are less likely to be uncovered and face less risk of deportation if caught by local law enforcement,” the website says.

“Sanctuary policies also provide an environment helpful to Latin American drug cartels, gangs, and terrorist cells — since their activities are less likely to be detected and reported by law enforcement.”

Some Republican presidential candidates have used similar language. Donald Trump has blamed immigration policy for Kate Steinle’s death. Another Republican, Jeb Bush, agreed, saying such policies encourage such crimes.

Interestingly enough, a 2015 Los Angeles Times article invokes the Bible (Numbers 35:28) and the Middle Ages tradition of the Catholic Church to provide sanctuary to accused felons (presumably as an option to avoid incarceration or perhaps summary execution).

Of course the Times failed to do their Biblical research regarding ancient Israelite sanctuary cities and that such laws in the Torah only applied to Israel and the Jewish people, and only to those who accidentally caused the death of another, not deliberate homicide. Neither the Biblical example or church tradition can or should be considered applicable legally to cities and organizations in the U.S. today as they are not recognized by Federal, State, County, or City penal codes.

In the aforementioned blog I posted yesterday, I lamented (granted, I wrote and published the missive impulsively) the not guilty verdict of Garcia Zarate in the shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle.

Garcia Zarate has been convicted of seven felonies, was released by San Francisco law enforcement from jail three months prior to the shooting, and local law enforcement ignored a request from ICE to be notified of his release pursuant to them initiating actions for deportation (again).

Garcia Zarate broke into the car of a Federal Park Ranger and took his handgun (committing both theft and the illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon) and through some process that is unclear, discharged the firearm into a crowd on Pier 14 in San Francisco, with the round ricocheting and striking Steinle, killing her. She died in her Father’s arms.

For some strange reason, this does not merit a verdict of involuntary manslaughter in the eyes of the jury and all he was convicted of was illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. This whole travesty highlights the issue of sanctuary cities since if he were not in one when he shot Steinle, the shooter would have most likely been deported before he had the opportunity to steal a handgun and kill anyone.

The New York Times says that of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., only 300,000 or 2.7% have been convicted of a felony. That seems like a pretty low number. On the other hand, Kate Steinle’s Dad must not only mourn his daughter but suffer the agony of knowing her killer goes unpunished for death.

My daughter is 29 years old, about the same age Kate was when she was shot and killed by Garcia Zarate, and my heart is broken for her Dad. I know exactly how he feels. In this individual case, both San Francisco as a sanctuary city and their criminal justice system failed him and his daughter. The state is supposed to speak for the rights of the victims. They have only served to embolden the criminals.

I did find out something interesting. Garcia Zarate’s defense said that he was handling the firearm and it “just went off” spontaneously. That’s pretty unlikely under most circumstances, but then I found a Facebook post by Dennis Karoleski that explained things further in terms of the specific handgun Garcia Zarate used:

In all this hullabaloo surrounding the inconceivable not guilty verdicts in the Kathryn Steinle trial, the “experts” seem to be overlooking a nasty trick the defense may have pulled off. The .40-caliber SIG Sauer P239 is equipped with a de-cocking lever on the left side of the frame that is activated with only a few ounces of pressure and causes the hammer to drop harmlessly. After years of demonstrating and selling firearms, I can assure you that can be startling to people totally ignorant of firearm operation, as we can be sure the defense guaranteed during his jury selection. The fact that the jury suddenly made up its mind right after examining the firearm in question points to that being the case. If it can be proven that an intentional misleading impression was implanted in the minds of the jury by the defense and his “technical expert” can that be grounds to declare a mistrial?

In other words, it would have been all but impossible for the handgun to have spontaneously discharged. Through whatever process or intent, Garcia Zarate must have pulled the trigger. Perhaps he didn’t intend to kill Steinle or anyone else, but he nevertheless is directly responsible for her death.

zarate and steinle

Juan Garcia Zarate (left) and his victim Kate Steinle (right)

If sanctuary cities did not exist, would Kate Steinle still be alive? That’s tough to say, but her chances of living would have increased substantially in my opinion given what I’ve written above. Does the fact that few undocumented immigrants have ever been convicted of a felony justify the continuance of such cities? I don’t know.

I do know that if people of color can feel outraged and even riot as a result of a police officer being found not guilty of a crime in shooting and killing an African-American man under what might be considered questionable circumstances, I too can feel outraged (though I have no intention of committing acts of violence) as a result of Garcia Zarate being found not guilty in the shooting death of Kate Steinle when, after all, he was the person holding the stolen gun that killed her.

What I know or am reasonably convinced of is that while immigration law is, on the surface, in place to regulate our borders (and to the best of my knowledge, while some nations have open borders relative to specific other states, none have universally open borders allowing anyone from any other jurisdiction on Earth to enter for any purpose and stay for an unlimited period of time), in reality, they create a class of “serfs” who are allowed to work and live in the U.S., but only for illegally low wages and in order to keep the price of many of our goods and services down to what we consider affordable levels.

I don’t know what the answer is on a large-scale national and social level. I do know as a Dad of a daughter and a Grandpa to two adorable grandchildren, the loss of even one single child is a price that is too high to pay.

10 thoughts on “Sanctuary and the Death of Kate Steinle

  1. “…the vast majority of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.”

    Do you really believe this figure? It is a gross understatement. Illegals are now in all 50 states.


    …… critics say the workers can be exploited. Since the visas are tied to a particular job, the foreigners can’t simply jump ship for a better-paying job at another resort, and unlike Americans [(U.S. citizens)], they may be reluctant to raise any complaints with their employers.

    A Cruz ad says that Donald Trump “brings in hundreds of foreign workers to replace Americans.”

    Federal labor records show Trump sought visas for hundreds of foreign workers to fill temporary positions at his Mar-A-Lago Club in recent years. Hundreds of U.S. applicants either applied or were referred for the jobs, but only a handful were hired. There is some debate about whether those applicants were qualified or not.

    Also: News reports suggested Mar-A-Lago did the bare minimum to meet legal requirements to try to recruit U.S. workers. For example… job openings were placed [with print requiring a magnifying glass] in a local newspaper [of] small circulation for just two days rather than a larger newspaper.
    Read more here:
    Twenty-seven-year-old Meredith Hight was watching the Cowboys football game with a group of friends and family when her estranged husband reportedly entered her house and opened fire……

    {If anyone chooses to watch the above video (embedded above the article or partial transcript), save time by starting at 15:55 or 24:55, 30:00, 37:00, or 44:30.}

    Anyway, beyond the man in the original story of this topic not (theoretically) being able to purchase any gun, I would think it should be illegal for him to ever have any gun in his hands (or house or backpack, car or anything). And it doesn’t make sense to me that he didn’t even get manslaughter. (Nevertheless, I don’t attribute it to cities not elevating suspected illegal immigration status above all other law.)

    I also think the (white, U.S. citizen) recent church shooter shouldn’t have even qualified as an unarmed guard — but he did obtain such qualification for work.


  3. ““They think that cooperating with ICE causes them problems with respect to the immigrant community and public safety, ” Does it really cause more problems or more paperwork & their time? As for public safety, I think American Citizens safety should come first before illegal/criminals immigrants. He should have been booked so his crime is on record and then sent straight to ICE. I could say so much more but I do agree with Jim. A life was cut short and a family now mourns when it could have been prevented. The people we trust the most to keep us safe drop the ball big time because of how they feel. Instead of upholding the law they are hired to do. I hope the father will hold them accountable for it too.


  4. The Jury did an admirable job of ignoring simple morality, common sense, and even civil law under the emotional appeal to let the poor, deprived, ‘immigrant’ to be essentially without fault because he is a poor, deprived ‘immigrant…a typical Liberal stance. The jury acted on emotion…to save the poor benighted soul from his foolish actions, and to give the finger to the Federal Government, and particularly the Trump Administration because that is primarily how the Liberal Left manages their decisions. They form their decisions not by logic, or even what works over the long run, but because it feels good. No one could do anything out about the dead women, after all, as the crime was long since passed out of the public eye and heart, so they prefer to forgive the ‘immigrant’…again. After all, the gun killed Kate, not the ‘immigrant’ in their viewpoint. Alos, he’s an ‘immigrant’, and thus requires allowances to be made.

    I live in California, and know all too well how these people are exploited by the political left, and the corporations of all political persuasions. We are over-run with people who have no legal right to be here because the Liberal politicians are basing their future power base on them being here as large, dependent populations, while the corporations, particularly the agricultural concerns, use these people like slaves…low pay, and high living expenses. They only come here because it is marginally better than their own countries. I do not blame them for coming, I just wish we could regulate the process as other countries do.

    That does not mean anything about their being here being good for the citizens of California, or the US, except that we, as a country, need the influx of population that we are preventing through social planning, abortion and the elimination of the Family as a basic economic and social unit. We are only growing as a nation because of the massive influx of illegal immigration. Unfortunately, it is a very expensive kind of population growth if we now have to ignore unarmed women being killed in the street.

    I see only the future wave of an Alt-Right political crackdown…because the Liberal Left is out of control, and over half the country would support that crackdown in favor of a little law and order so long as it does not impinge on the legal citizenry. Unfortunately, such crackdowns have a way of morphing into repression and creating more division and dissension.


  5. I’ve been conservative all my life (and I’m in my fifties), but it is becoming increasingly apparent that this is almost pointless. It seems to me that most who call themselves the right or conservative can hardly think anymore and don’t have values other than to be anti-liberal (except when, self-servingly, they can point at illiberal Muslims or such). To the contrary, however, Questor, I’m glad you said Unfortunatley, such crackdowns have a way of morphing into repression and creating more division and dissension.

    I think what is being called the far Left as well as the far Right are both out of control. But what happens when Hispanic people or people who speak Spanish, or who are tan or dark, are required to show papers upon demand is: innocent people (including citizens) get caught up in situations when they are walking through a park or when they report serious crime.

    The “hundreds” Trump hires are … not … [the] best. …
    [They are] people that have lots of problems … they’re bringing … with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”

    That’s one* point of view. But I haven’t met them (his hires).

    * (the perspective of the only one that matters)


  6. I am a Centrist myself, being a Liberal Constitutionalist, which for those that don’t know, is a position based on the original constitution, and moderated by a social welfare contract that protects the little guy…like widows, and orphans, the aged and the sick.

    Unfortunately, anything regarding reason in politics is pretty much gone in the US. Oh, for some common sense, and a little logic, as opposed to emotion carrying the day.


  7. Just to clear up any misconceptions, undocumented immigrant Garcia Zarate did not purchase the gun with which he killed Kate Steinle. He broke into the car of a Federal Park Ranger and took the Ranger’s unsecured firearm (the Ranger should be charged for allowing his firearm to be unsecure). No new law would have prevented Garcia Zarate’s crime of gun theft so gun control is absolutely not the issue here.

    The issue is that, months before the shooting, ICE requested that the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office notify them when Garcia Zarate was released from jail (he was in on drug charges) so they could deport him again. Not only has Garcia Zarate seven felony convictions on his record, he has been previously deported five times. In other words, unlike the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, he is a very bad, bad person; a known felon.

    And yet in their infinite wisdom Sanctuary City Sheriff’s Department chose not to inform ICE and, in my opinion, the death of Kate Steinle is a direct result. If Sheriff’s had notified ICE as requested, then in all likelihood, Garcia Zarate would have been deported and back in Mexico, at least long enough to disrupt the chain of events that allowed his to steal a firearm from a Federal Officer, shoot it on a very crowded Pier 14 resulting in Steinle’s death, and then throw said firearm into the San Francisco Bay (yeah, he knew he had done wrong).

    I’m not sure why being a conservative, centralist, liberal or anything else matters here. The facts are abundantly clear. In this particular instance, due to SF Sheriff’s dropping the ball, Kate Steinle died. Personally, I think her family should sue the socks off of the Sheriff’s Dept. as well as the city and county of San Francisco.


  8. I agree with you, James, that the specific Zarate story isn’t about gun control (in the sense that a new law on guns should have prevented that crime… so long as there already is a good law about securing a firearm in a vehicle); I agree, too, that the “Ranger should be charged …” (if said law is in place). It is, as well, a worthwhile idea that the victim family sue the county/city/etc. [I did understand that the felon didn’t buy the gun, but felons can buy even though they’re not supposed to do so. My bringing that up had to do with some of the reaction to the case and the “even one” concept.)

    Hey, Questor, I like that terminology. Your description is what I was told is conservative when I was being trained within a “nonprofit educational organization” (not a school) — except the instructors believed in what I would now call magical thinking such that everything would somehow work out for the little guy. You’re right, although you weren’t claiming it, I might now be a centrist — liberal constitutionalist (not to be confused with a libertarian or Randian). I sill like the word conservative, though, with a hope to conserve the Union, the environment…


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