San Francisco is shelling out almost $200,000 to an illegal immigrant after city employees violated its own sanctuary city law.
Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, a 33-year-old undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, was the alleged victim of a car theft. Figueroa-Zarceno went to a local police station to report the crime in the hopes of getting his car back. Police officers at Southern Station ran him through the system and discovered that, not only was he living in the country illegally, but that he also had a warrant out for his arrest (though police were not able to find details on the warrant).
Police officers then did something absolutely crazy and inexcusable: they reported Figueroa-Zarceno to immigration authorities. Agents arrested him as he left the station.
Despite doing something completely reasonable, police officers actually violated their own city’s laws. San Francisco is a sanctuary city. Its ordinance, Due Process for All Ordinance, dictates that local police officers are prohibited from cooperating with ICE or any immigration officials – except in cases of violent crimes. Since Figueroa-Zarceno was not involved in a violent crime when he reported his stolen vehicle, police officers violated San Francisco law when they turned him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Because of this, the El Salvadorian citizen sued the city of San Francisco on January 17… and won big league. The City Attorney’s Office awarded him $190,000 this week.
“It’s really important for San Francisco to remain a sanctuary city not in name only but also in practice,” stated Saira Hussain, the lawyer who represented Figueroa-Zarceno. Many attorneys like her are working hard to make sure San Francisco abides by its sanctuary city law.
An illegal immigrant with an arrest warrant successfully sued a major American city because he was detained by immigration authorities… let that sink in for a moment.