San Francisco police cooperated directly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in the detention of an undocumented man, in an apparent violation of city laws barring such cooperation, federal immigration documents show.
San Francisco resident Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, a citizen of El Salvador, went to the Southern Police Station in December to report a stolen car. When the police ran his name, as is usual, they found a warrant for his arrest and detained him as they ran down the status of the warrant.
After police were unable to find details on the warrant, Figueroa-Zarceno was released from a side door and then promptly arrested by immigration officials who had been notified of his detention by San Francisco police.
The San Francisco Police Department and ICE previously denied any such cooperation, saying there was only communication with the Sheriff’s Department, which acted as a liaison between the two agencies.
But internal ICE documents show direct communication between the two agencies happened just before Figueroa-Zarceno was released by the SFPD and then arrested by ICE outside of the station.
On Dec. 2, an ICE duty officer made direct contact with the SFPD, the document says.
“SFPD contacted duty officer … and stated Zarceno is at the Southern Police Station located at 1245 3rd St.,” according to the Department of Homeland Security file on Figueroa-Zarceno, whose last name is given as only Zarceno in the file.
The document went on to point out the duty officer and another immigration officer “arrested Zarceno in front of a side door to the Southern Police Station.”
When San Francisco passed a law, the Due Process for All Ordinance, its purpose was in part meant to prevent such incidents. The law was specifically aimed at avoiding such arrests, because those incidents may discourage immigrants from reporting crimes to police for fear of being turned over to immigration authorities.
Figueroa-Zarceno’s advocates, who said he was released from ICE detention Feb. 3, said his case is one example of the personal havoc that is caused by such cooperation.
“Pedro’s detention brought great anguish to his fiancee and 8-year-old daughter and underscored the danger posed by local law enforcement entanglement in a deportation system that lacks due process,” said a statement from Jon Rodney, communications manager at the California Immigrant Policy Center. “His release came after a series of legal motions made by his attorneys — and public outcry over the case. Figueroa is still in deportation proceedings, but his case has been reopened, with a hearing scheduled for 2019.”
The lawyers and supporters of Figueroa-Zarceno are expected to rally outside of City Hall on Friday to put pressure on local law enforcement agencies. .
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