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Conservative Review

Kate Steinle’s killer goes on trial as Kate’s Law goes nowhere

The trial for the illegal immigrant who shot and killed Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015 begins this week. It brings the case to a close but leaves the immigration debate far from settled and the law passed in her name stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate claims that Steinle’s death was an accident. He said he found a handgun wrapped in a T-shirt under a bench on the pier and that it fired as he tried to extract it, shooting the 32-year-old Steinle in the back while she was walking with her father.

The handgun originally belonged to a Bureau of Land Management ranger who had reported it stolen a week before the shooting. Zarate has been charged with second-degree murder and will face a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison if convicted.

Now 54, Zarate had been deported five times previously. On the campaign trail, President Trump criticized the state of California’s weak immigration policy for failing to keep Steinle’s killer out of the country. President Trump strongly supported the passage of Kate’s Law, which would increase penalties for those who attempt to reenter the country after deportation.

The House of Representatives passed Kate’s Law in June with bipartisan support, but the Senate has yet to act upon it.

The Senate will need to meet a 60-vote threshold to pass the bill, meaning eight Democratic senators will need to cross the aisle to move the bill past a filibuster for a full vote on the Senate floor.

But there is no indication when the Republican majority in the Senate will decide it’s time to try to get Kate’s Law to the president’s desk. Having failed to repeal Obamacare several times, the top Republican priority is the passage of a budget that will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit in order to set the stage for tax reform to pass under budget reconciliation. 

Kate’s Law seems to have fallen out of the national policy discussion. In early October, the Trump administration released a list of immigration priorities the Democrats must agree to in exchange for DACA amnesty. While there was general support for increased border security in the president’s ask, there was no specific mention of Kate’s Law.

This is disappointing — Kate’s Law was a “day one” promise of Trump. The trial of Steinle’s killer presents the president with an opportunity to ensure the Senate gets to work on fulfilling the president’s campaign promise.

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