San Francisco, notorious for harboring more illegal aliens than almost every other city in the United States, will soon pay an undocumented immigrant, Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, $190,000 after it detained him and prepared him for deportation.
In December 2015, after Figueroa-Zarceno reported his car stolen, police officers at the station were made aware that there was a more-than-10-year-old civil warrant out in his name. As a result of a DUI conviction in 2005, Figueroa-Zarceno had been marked for deportation back to El Salvador. He was subsequently arrested and detained for two months. Under San Francisco’s sanctuary policies, however, this move was illegal. Per the 1989 “City and County of Refuge” Ordinance (also known as the Sanctuary Ordinance), “city employees [are prohibited] from using City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of Federal immigration law.” For co-operating with federal law, San Francisco was thus obliged to pay out nearly $200,000 in taxpayer dollars.
The settlement, which will soon be paid, illustrates the counterproductive nature of sanctuary policies that force law enforcement officers to choose between letting undocumented aliens go — including violent offenders — and risking massive payouts. Traditionally, “sanctuary cities” are justified on the grounds that they “foster respect and trust between law enforcement and residents to ensure our communities are safe.” In truth, however, they often do the opposite, carving out a space within which certain members of those “communities” can operate with impunity. Figueroa-Zarceno claims that “what happened to [him] was very unfair and it was an injustice.” This is nonsense. San Francisco’s police officers merely enforced the law against a man who had broken it. That this is now controversial does not portend well.