U.S. Plans to Deport Mexican Man Acquitted in Kathryn Steinle Case

The United States plans to deport the Mexican man who was acquitted of killing Kathryn Steinle, a woman whose 2015 death while strolling along a San Francisco pier fueled a fierce national debate over immigration, officials said Thursday. Donald J. Trump, then a presidential candidate, highlighted the case in his attacks on migration and sanctuary cities.

Jose Inez Garcia Zarate was acquitted by a jury in November 2017 on murder and manslaughter charges but was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He said he had fired the gun by accident, and evidence presented at the trial indicated that the bullet had ricocheted.

He was sentenced to time served in 2022, but he has remained in prison for federal probation violations since then. He was transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Feb. 16, officials at the agency said.

ICE plans to deport Mr. Garcia Zarate to central or southern Mexico within days or a week, according to an official with the Department of Homeland Security. The person, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ms. Steinle’s death became a touchstone in a fierce debate over how law enforcement should approach immigrants without legal status. Mr. Garcia Zarate, who is in his late 40s or early 50s, had been convicted of multiple offenses and deported to Mexico at least five times from 1993 to 2011, according to court documents.

The national debate continues to this day, as Mr. Trump, again running for president, tries to galvanize support for his hard-line immigration agenda. President Biden, who came into office promising a more humane immigration system after the Trump years, has taken an increasingly forceful line on immigration as well.

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