The tax payers of San Francisco, courtesy of a plea deal negotiated by the City Attorney's Office, will soon be handing over $190,000 to an illegal immigrant, who had a warrant out for his arrest mind you, after he filed a lawsuit alleging that city police violated 'sanctuary city ordinances' by handing him over to immigration officials. No, you've not lost your mind, this is real life.
The incident all started when Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno visited a San Francisco police station to report that his car had been stolen. In the process of filing the complaint, officers discovered there was a warrant out for Figueroa's arrest but apparently they were unable to track down further details. Figueroa was eventually allowed to leave the police station through a side exit where immigration officials were conveniently waiting for him.
Here is more from the San Francisco Examiner:
A man who San Francisco police turned over to immigration authorities in violation of The City’s sanctuary ordinance is set to be awarded $190,000 in a settlement agreement reached with the City Attorney’s Office, which his lawyer hopes will push police to obey such laws.
Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, 33, sued The City on Jan. 17 for violating its sanctuary city laws when officers at Southern Station allegedly cooperated with immigration officials. Figueroa-Zarceno, an undocumented immigrant and native of El Salvador, went to the station at 1251 3rd Street in Mission Bay in December 2015 to report a stolen car.
But instead of helping him find his car, officers called immigration authorities, who took him into custody outside of the station.
Police reports and case documents previously obtained by the Examiner showed that officers at the station detained Figueroa-Zarceno after they ran his name and found a warrant for his arrest. But they were unable to find details on the warrant, so Figueroa-Zarceno was released from a side door, where he was then arrested by immigration officials. Those officials had been notified by San Francisco police.
All that said, Attorney Saira Hussain wants you to know that it's "really important" that San Francisco's sanctuary city laws are protected...other laws, not so much.
“It’s really important for San Francisco to remain a sanctuary city not in name only but also in practice,” said Saira Hussain, a staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus, who represented Zarceno.
City law, the Due Process for All Ordinance, bars law enforcement from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, among other federal immigration officials, except in a few exceptions when violent criminals are involved. Part of the law’s purpose was to encourage immigrants to report crimes they may otherwise not report because they fear law enforcement will turn them over to immigration authorities.
Of course, none of this is particularly surprising given that, as we recently noted, the city of San Francisco launched a whole new group in the Public Defender's office specifically dedicated to representing illegal immigrants. As an NBC affiliate in the Bay Area noted, the new office is expected to handle just 50 clients per year of the 1,500 detained immigrants that currently have scheduled court dates.
Unlike in criminal court, immigrants are not automatically entitled to legal representation in deportation proceedings. However, studies have shown that detained immigrants with attorneys are six times more likely to win their cases.
While San Francisco also provides funding to nonprofits specializing in legal aid to immigrants, the public defender's office is intended to serve those already in detention, a demographic the nonprofits generally don't serve.
The unit's attorneys are each expected to handle around 50 clients per year -- a small portion of the estimated 1,500 detained immigrants who currently have court dates in San Francisco, around 85 percent of whom do not have attorneys.
If cities get to randomly pick and choose which laws they're going to enforce, can we kindly request that someone create a 'sanctuary' for those wanted for grand theft auto? Some of us are in the market for a couple really nice Lambo's but are somewhat 'economically challenged' at the moment...frankly, it's just not fair and we're feeling 'triggered'.