An effort by San Francisco to shield eight young Honduran crack dealers from federal immigration officials backfired when the youths escaped from Southern California group homes within days of their arrival, officials said Monday.
The walkaways are the latest in a string of embarrassments for city officials who are protecting illegal-immigrant drug dealers from federal authorities and possible deportation because of San Francisco's 1989 declaration that the city is a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.
Until recently, San Francisco flew juvenile illegal immigrants convicted of drug crimes to their home countries rather than cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a practice that drew national attention when The Chronicle reported it Sunday.
When federal law enforcement authorities demanded that San Francisco halt the flights and began a criminal investigation, the city decided to house some of the dealers in long-term youth rehabilitation centers. Some of those centers are run by a non-profit company called Silverlake Youth Services in mountain towns southeast of San Bernardino.
Eight Honduran juveniles who had been convicted of dealing drugs in San Francisco were sent within the past few weeks to the company's group homes, where one month's placement costs $7,000 per youth - an expense borne by San Francisco taxpayers.
Within 10 days of being sent to the unlocked group homes, however, all eight youths ran away, said Bill Siffermann, head of juvenile probation in San Francisco. He said his agency has issued arrest warrants for them.
Siffermann said the city has stopped sending juvenile offenders to Silverlake because of the escapes. "We have now eliminated that as a prospect," he said, adding that San Francisco is trying to come up with an approach for handling the juveniles that does not involve giving them to federal immigration authorities.
-- Jaxon Van Derbeken, writing about what has to be the stupidest attitude a city can take towards trouble-making outsiders - and against it's own government while abusing tax-paying citizens - in the SFGate.