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Steinle trial is criminal justice system issue before it is an issue of immigration

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On the evening of July 1, 2015, 32-year-old Kate Steinle was walking on Pier 14 with her father in San Francisco. She was shot and killed by undocumented immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who claimed he was walking and found a gun wrapped in a T-shirt. Zarate said the gun accidentally went off, killing Steinle, according to the Washington Post.

With this murder case, questions are brought up about immigration reform and regulating the laws dealing with undocumented criminals here in the United States.

While not all immigrants are criminals and are least likely to commit serious crimes, there are a large number of undocumented immigrants who do commit crimes. Since the presidential election, there has been debate over immigration reform. President Donald Trump has been pushing the issue of more immigration restrictions and regulations, especially undocumented criminals.

There should be better immigration laws, but we cannot have better immigration laws unless we change the criminal justice system and how it deals with undocumented immigrants when it comes to prosecutions and deportation. It seems that there is some sort of disconnect when it comes to the deportation process. Somehow, these criminals are making their way back into the U.S. which is not good; this is a matter of public safety.

In 2016, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 240,255 undocumented immigrants. Of the people removed, 58 percent – or 138,669 – had previous criminal histories, and 2,057 of the people removed in 2016 were suspected or confirmed gang members, according to the ICE website. That means over half of undocumented immigrants who are here illegally have a criminal history. Whether the crime was violent or nonviolent, it is not fair to the immigrants who are here legally and abide by the laws of the land.

Once someone is removed, they should be prosecuted for that crime in their homeland. If Zarate had been convicted for his crimes in Mexico, for illegally crossing the border and committing  crimes in the U.S., he may not have had the chance to find that gun under the bench that day, and Steinle may still be alive. If there had been a stricter sentence, Zarate would have been in prison. But then again, we don’t have any jurisdiction in Mexico.

On the U.S. side, there should be more jail time added for crossing the borders illegally and committing crimes. This sounds more logical to me, instead of being repeatedly prosecuted, sent back to their homeland, where they face no consequences, and make their way back into the U.S. So I could see why the Trump administration wants to strengthen our borders and overhaul our immigration system.

The truth is in the numbers when it comes to undocumented immigrants and crime. Fifty-eight percent is a large enough number for me to agree with the president on immigration reform. This is not just an isolated incident. There are too many to list in one story, but the number of people victimized by undocumented immigrants warrants some change in the system

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Steinle trial is criminal justice system issue before it is an issue of immigration