An undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who sued the city of San Francisco for allegedly violating its own sanctuary city policies and causing him to be jailed by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency is set to get a $190,000 settlement, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
The man, 33-year-old Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, sued the city earlier this year. He was detained by ICE in December 2015 after he went with his fiancée—who is a U.S. citizen—to the police station to report and retrieve his stolen car.
An officer allegedly called ICE authorities and informed them that Figueroa-Zarceno, according to an ICE document reviewed by San Francisco’s CBS affiliate KPIX. He was then detained by ICE and spent two months in jail, SF Gate reported.
ICE gave a statement about his detention—which seems to mix up his name—to the Examiner last year:
“Pedro Zarceno-Figueroa was taken into custody Dec. 2 by officers assigned to one of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Fugitive Operations Teams,” said the statement. “The Fugitive Operations officers targeted Mr. Zarceno-Figueroa for arrest based upon his conviction for DUI and an outstanding order of removal issued by an immigration judge in 2005.
San Francisco has had a sanctuary policy since 1989. That policy prohibits city employees from using the city’s resources to enforce federal immigration law. In 2013, the city passed a “Due Process for All” ordinance which limits police from informing ICE about when someone who may be undocumented would be leaving their custody.
These policies were adopted so that people, regardless of their immigration status, would feel comfortable contacting police and city resources if they need help, the city explains on its website.
“Mr. Figueroa Zarceno and his family lived a nightmare and were separated for two months—all because he sought help from the police after he was the victim of car theft,” one of Figueroa-Zarceho’s attorneys, Saira Hussain, told Fusion. “This is the pain that hundreds of thousands of families experience and many more fear due to our country’s mass deportation system. The proposed settlement begins to right the wrongs done to Mr. Figueroa and his family and sends a message of accountability that recognizes we must treat all people fairly, no matter what they look like or where they were born.”
As for the police department, this is what police officials said, according to the local CBS station:
Police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said in a statement Friday that then-Police Chief Greg Suhr had informed Mayor Ed Lee that Figueroa-Zarceno “never should have been taken into custody by ICE agents after being released from Southern Police Station.”
“It is the policy of the San Francisco Police Department to foster trust and cooperation with all people of the City and to encourage them to communicate with SFPD officers without fear of inquiry regarding their immigration status,” the statement said.
The department is investigating and if any violations of policies and procedures are found, “there will be serious consequences,” the statement said.
The SFPD directed comment to the City Attorney’s office when I contacted them.
“San Francisco has strong policies in place to encourage victims and witnesses to report crimes without fear of being deported, which include our sanctuary ordinance. These policies are designed to foster respect and trust between law enforcement and residents to ensure our communities are safe,” John Cote, spokesperson for the City Attorney, said in a statement to Fusion. “The City, including the Police Department, remains committed to them. This proposed settlement is a fair resolution for all of the parties involved.”
Figueroa-Zarceno is expected to receive a $190,000 settlement from the city as part of a deal with the City Attorney’s office. Before that can happen, the Board of Supervisors has to vote on it, the Examiner reported.
According to Figueroa-Zarceno’s lawyer, he still has an open immigration case, and does still risk deportation.
UPDATE, 5:02 PM: An ICE spokesperson sent us the following statement:
Mr. Zarceno-Figueroa was taken into custody Dec. 2, 2015, by officers assigned to one of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Fugitive Operations Teams. The Fugitive Operations officers targeted Mr. Zarceno-Figueroa for arrest based upon his conviction for DUI and an outstanding order of removal issued by an immigration judge in 2005. The Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review has granted Zarceno-Figueroa’s motion to reopen his immigration case. At this time, Mr. Zarceno-Figueroa’s removal proceedings remain pending.
While ICE is going to refrain from offering any comment about the ongoing civil litigation related to San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city, I would refer you to the excerpted remarks below which were made by ICE’s Acting Director Tom Homan in a meeting this week with reporters where one of the topics discussed was jurisdictions that elect not to cooperate with ICE.
DIRECTOR HOMAN: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Tom Homan, and I’m the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I’m at the White House today to participate in a roundtable discussion with President Trump and other important stakeholders, including families of victims who have been killed by illegal aliens.
ICE’s new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, otherwise known as the VOICE Office, is working with families like the ones we’ll be sitting with today to assist them in the aftermath of crimes that could have been prevented.
More than 400 calls from victims have been referred to our community relations officers and victim specialists for assistance with accessing resources, getting more information about a specific case, and how the immigration process works. Sanctuary jurisdictions pose a threat to the American public by refusing to work with ICE and allowing egregious criminal offenders back into the community to put the lives of the public at risk. Not to mention the fact, it also puts my law enforcement officers at risk because they have to go back on the street to arrest somebody they could have arrested in a county jail.
When some law enforcement agencies fail to honor detainers or release serious criminal offenders, they — it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission. Most work with us, but many don’t in the largest cities, and that is where criminal aliens and criminal gangs flourish. It is safer for everyone if we take custody of an alien in a controlled environment of another law enforcement agency as opposed to visiting an alien’s residence, place of work, or other public area. Arresting a criminal in the safety, security, and privacy of the jail is the right thing to do.
Beyond the issue of sanctuary jurisdictions, the two executive orders signed by the President earlier this year have finally allowed my officers to do what they do best: uphold the integrity of our borders and our immigration system by enforcing the laws as they were written.