An illegal immigrant who found himself detained and turned over to federal immigration authorities is poised to collect $190,000 from the city of San Francisco, according to KPIX-5.
The TV station reported that city lawyers have agreed to pay the settlement to Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, a native of El Salvador who sued, alleging the city violated its “sanctuary” policy by alerting Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The city’s Board of Supervisors still must approve the deal, but there does not appear to be much opposition.
It is a powerful reminder that even as the House of Representatives on Thursday passed a pair of measures to crack down on sanctuary policies and increase penalties for repeat illegal immigrants with criminal records, progressive cities such as San Francisco are zooming in the opposite direction.
“That is beyond backwards. That is perverse,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “Talk about an incentive to come here illegally. I just can’t wrap my head around that.”
It is unclear how much San Francisco has paid on litigation costs associated with its sanctuary executive order. The Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the city denied its open records request on attorney-client grounds.
San Francisco adopted its sanctuary policy in 1989, becoming one of the first jurisdictions in the country to prohibit police from cooperating with federal officials on immigration enforcement.
Yet when Figueroa-Zarceno went to the police station in December 2015 to recover his stolen car, someone tipped off ICE. He found himself detained for two months, marked for deportation. Officials, in fact, had issued a civil deportation order back in 2005, according to KPIX.
Figueroa-Zarceno is fighting his deportation and has a hearing date in 2019, according to the TV station.
“There’s an insanity in California that is just unfathomable.”
KPIX also reported that the police department is promising “serious consequences” if it determines any officer violated policies and procedures. John Coté, a spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, told the news outlet that sanctuary policies foster trust between law enforcement officers and residents.
“This proposed settlement is a fair resolution for all of the parties involved,” he said.
Joseph Guzzardi, a spokesman for Californians for Population Stabilization, ripped San Francisco’s decision to agree to a six-figure settlement with a man who is not even in the country legally.
“It just goes to show the extent to which San Francisco city officials are willing to go to support their own sanctuary policies,” he said. “It’s completely and totally an assault on taxpayers and not justifiable in any way.”
David Cross, a spokesman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, agreed.
“There’s an insanity in California that is just unfathomable,” he said.
The settlement even drew comments during the House debate over the immigration bills. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who sponsored both bills, said it is disappointing San Francisco would pay an illegal immigrant considering the city was the location of the shooting death two years ago of tourist Kate Steinle, allegedly at the hands of another illegal immigrant.
“People who are murdered, people who are injured by people who are unlawfully present in the United States, should have their day in court with the city of San Francisco or anyplace else,” he said.