District Judge Alia Moses of Texas unsealed the warrant for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who a day earlier was found not guilty of killing Ms Steinle as she strolled along a pier in San Francisco in 2015.
The warrant is for Mr Zarate violating the terms of his supervised release, a Department of Justice official said.
Mr Zarate had been released by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department shortly before Ms Steinle’s death. An immigrant in the country illegally, he had been deported several times and had served time in federal prison for illegally re-entering the United States.
While jurors cleared Mr Zarate of homicide and manslaughter, vindicating the defense’s argument that Ms Steinle was killed by an accidental shot that ricocheted, they found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Mr Zarate said he found the gun that fired the fatal bullet under a bench and picked it up.
The case became a flashpoint over immigration policy, with critics arguing that San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city” limiting cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement contributed to Ms Steinle’s death.
Donald Trump regularly invoked the case as a rationale for more stringent immigration laws. He blasted the verdict on Twitter as “disgraceful,” and the White House excoriated the decision.
Yesterday’s verdict in San Francisco underscores the danger to public safety when our Nation fails to enforce its laws. Kate Steinle was killed by an illegal immigrant and convicted felon who had been deported from the United States five times,” a White House statement said, adding that “Had San Francisco enforced our Nation’s immigration laws, the Steinle family would be celebrating this holiday with all of their loved ones”.
The Department of Justice said it was exploring ways to bring federal charges against Mr Zarate.
“We’re looking at every option and we will prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law because these cases are tragic and entirely preventable,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said during an interview on news show Fox & Friends.
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