In July 2016, the House of Representatives passed a bill known as “Kate’s Law,” which would make it more difficult for immigrants convicted of felonies to re-enter the U.S. But who was Kate Steinle, the woman whose death inspired the bill?
Steinle was 32 years old when she was shot while walking on San Francisco’s Pier 14. She collapsed in her father’s arms and died in the hospital two hours later. Her death was caused by a bullet from a handgun belonging to 45-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate. Garcia Zarate’s attorney claimed Steinle’s death was an accident, and Garcia Zarate has since been acquitted of murder charges.
In July 2016, influenced by Steinle’s death, the House of Representatives passed “Kate’s Law.” The bill, which has yet to be passed by the Senate, would make it more difficult for immigrants convicted of a felony to re-enter the U.S. Garcia Zarate had been convicted of several felonies and deported five times at the time of Steinle’s shooting.
According to a video from CNN, San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city prevented Garcia Zarate from being deported a sixth time prior to Steinle’s death (a sanctuary city is one in which local police do not have to cooperate with immigration officials unless a person is suspected of a dangerous crime). Many expected the jury to rule in favor of the prosecution, so Garcia Zarate’s acquittal came as a surprise to some.
Following Garcia Zarate’s acquittal, conservative Twitter users expressed outrage and called for justice for Steinle.
Others, however, have noted that many who are outraged fail to recognize that the majority of murders in the U.S. are committed by U.S. citizens. Steinle’s own parents told the San Francisco Chronicle that they do not agree with using their daughter’s death for a political agenda and are personally not in favor of Kate’s Law. They expressed sadness over losing a child, but said they don’t feel hatred toward Garcia Zarate.
At the time of her death, Steinle was working in medical sales and had just moved in with her boyfriend. She had graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a communications degree. Her loved ones told the Los Angeles Times that she loved traveling and had been to South Africa, Dubai, and Barcelona.
Steinle’s death was a terrible tragedy, but we should celebrate her memory rather than politicize her death. Our thoughts are with the Steinle family during this time.