This is another one of those stories that you just aren’t going to believe is true, to which we say: It happened in California, where anything — no matter how inexplicable, no matter how dumb — can, and often does, happen.
Here it is in a nutshell first, then fleshed out. A native of El Salvador sneaks into America. He cruises up to San Francisco, figures he’s safe, it being a “sanctuary city,” where municipal officials refuse to help the federal government deport illegals. His car is stolen, he goes to a police station, someone there notifies the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he’s arrested.
Now, San Francisco taxpayers could soon pay him $190,000 for his dramatic pain and suffering.
Told you, right?
Here are the details. Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno walked into a police station in December 2015 to recover his stolen car. Shortly after he left, ICE agents arrested him. He was held for two months.
His lawyers argue that federal ICE documents show that a San Francisco police officer directly contacted the immigration agency to tell them where to find Figueroa-Zarceno. That, the lawyers say, is a violation of the sanctuary city policies.
Figueroa-Zarceno says it was horrible after he was detained from breaking U.S. law. “I could hear my daughter screaming outside the van, Dad! Dad!” he said, according to KPIX-5, the local CBS affiliate. “I could hear her telling them not to take her dad.”
But here’s the thing: another San Francisco law says illegals can’t be detained by immigration authorities for deportation unless wanted for serious crimes. Figueroa-Zarceno did serve two days in jail for a DUI, but his attorneys say he’s otherwise clear (except for that pesky only a civil deportation order dating back to 2005 for, you know, sneaking into America).
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.
John Coté, a spokesman for the Office of San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, “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. The City, including the Police Department, remain committed to them.”
Coté said, “This proposed settlement is a fair resolution for all of the parties involved.”
KPIX also says “The settlement is expected to be confirmed by San Francisco supervisors in future hearings.”
Yup. Taxpayers will shell out nearly $200,000 to an illegal intruder because his rights were violated when officials tried to deport him.
And that’s only “fair,” right?