In December 2015, Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, was contacted by the San Francisco police to inform him that his car had been stolen and found. When he arrived at the police headquarters, they, in turn, detained him and called immigration officials.
Figueroa-Zarceno ended up being detained for two months, so he sued the city because he alleged the detention goes against San Francisco’s “Sanctuary City” policy. The city of San Francisco states on its website:
“In 1989, San Francisco passed the ‘City and County of Refuge’ Ordinance (also known as the Sanctuary Ordinance). The Sanctuary Ordinance generally prohibits City employees from using City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of Federal immigration law unless such assistance is required by federal or state law.
In 2013, San Francisco passed the ‘Due Process for All’ Ordinance. This ordinance limits when City law enforcement officers may give ICE advance notice of a person’s release from local jail. It also prohibits cooperation with ICE detainer requests, sometimes referred to as ‘ICE holds.’ These ordinances were last amended in July 2016.”
Clearly, Figueroa-Zarceno had a case.
“What happened to me was very unfair and it was an injustice,” Figueroa-Zerceno said. “I went into the police station to seek help and they didn’t tell me what was happening and they arrested me and treated me badly.”
In January, Figueroa-Zarceno filed a lawsuit against San Francisco for violating its sanctuary city policy. Now, Figueroa-Zarceno’s lawyer, Saira Hussain, says that the city will pay him $190,000 if the agreement is approved by the city’s Board of Supervisors.
“It’s really important for San Francisco to remain a sanctuary city not in name only but also in practice,” Hussain told The San Francisco Examiner. “Our hope is that the department is going to look into this further and really examine the way that the department can do more.”