Court: Kate Steinle’s Parents Can’t Sue San Francisco for Negligence in Daughter’s Death

Kristin Lam, USA TODAY, March 26, 2019

The parents of a woman fatally shot by an undocumented immigrant in July 2015 cannot sue San Francisco for neglecting to hold him for deportation proceedings, a U.S. appeals court ruled.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday unanimously refused to reinstate the lawsuit that sparked national debate over sanctuary cities limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, a Mexican national, fatally shot Kate Steinle after being deported five times. San Francisco’s former sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, released him from jail three months before the shooting, despite a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to hold him until he could be picked him up for deportation proceedings.

On Monday, the court ruled Mirkarimi violated no federal, state or local laws by refusing to tell ICE about his release date.

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Describing the case as “undeniably tragic,” 9th Circuit Judge Mark Bennett said the sheriff had authority to issue a memo limiting local cooperation with immigration officials. Federal immigration laws did not require Mirkarimi to share Garcia-Zarate’s release date, he added.

“The tragic and unnecessary death of Steinle may well underscore the policy argument against Sheriff Mirkarimi’s decision to bar his employees from providing the release date of a many times convicted felon to ICE,” Bennett said. “But that policy argument can be acted upon only by California’s state and municipal political branches of government, or perhaps by Congress.”

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