Sunday, June 29, 2008

Feds Looking at SF Sanctuary Ordinance

Feds allege that SF may be shielding some deportable immigrants from removal. Jaxon Van Derbeken writes for the SF Chronicle:

San Francisco juvenile probation officials - citing the city's immigrant sanctuary status - are protecting Honduran youths caught dealing crack cocaine from possible federal deportation and have given some offenders a city-paid flight home with carte blanche to return.

The city's practices recently prompted a federal criminal investigation into whether San Francisco has been systematically circumventing U.S. immigration law, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.

City officials say they are trying to balance their obligations under federal and state law with local court orders and San Francisco's policies aimed at protecting the rights of the young immigrants, who they say are often victims of exploitation.

Federal authorities counter that drug kingpins are indeed exploiting the immigrants, but that the city's stance allows them to get away with "gaming the system."

San Francisco juvenile authorities have been grappling for several years with an influx of young Honduran immigrants dealing crack in the Mission District and Tenderloin.

Those who are arrested routinely say they are minors, but police suspect that many are actually adults, living communally in Oakland and other cities at the behest of drug traffickers who claim to be their relatives.

Nonetheless, city authorities have typically accepted the suspects' stories and handled the cases in Juvenile Court, where proceedings are often shielded from public scrutiny. Click here for the rest of the story.


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'Federal officials recently detained a San Francisco juvenile probation officer at the Houston airport, where he was accompanying two Honduran juvenile drug offenders about to board a flight to Tegucigalpa.'

Issue #1:
This is a de facto deportation conducted by a municipal probation officer. Deportation is exclusive to the federal government. If, e.g., Joe Arpaio was engaged in such back door deportations we would be hearing that argument loudly from outraged open border advocates.

Issue #2:

'Federal officials also say U.S. law prohibits helping an illegal immigrant to cross the border, even if it is to return home.'

"The City's public awareness campaign is a reminder that City employees will not report individuals or their immigration status to federal immigration agents," said Mayor Newsom. "San Francisco residents should feel safe when they visit a public health clinic, enroll their children in school, report a crime to the Police Department or seek out other City services."

...or engage in recidivistic drug dealing. We are constantly lectured to that these protective policies and ordinances are about witnesses and victims, not coddling criminals. Well, in this case, public officials are bending over backwards *specifically* to protect criminals, are they not? Sifferman even admits he wants these repeat offenders who aren't supposed to be here in the first place to become citizens and I guess in his mind that justifies taking federal immigration law into his own hands. Lots of compassion for these guys but apparently not as much concern for kids who might O.D. on what they’re selling. Sifferman must know they'll come right back and start dealing again but on the off chance they might not he wants to offer them a ‘different course’. It would be different if we were stuck with them, but we aren’t! That makes the the blind forgiveness and fifth, sixth, seventh chance thing so crazy. If they’re families are back in Honduras as the article states, there’s no ‘divided family’ argument. They would be here without parents, without supervision, just ‘floating’ and dealing. So why in the world would he want them back? He comes off as one of those types who just blindly wants everybody. That’s fine for academics but irresponsible for a public official. It begs the question--is there any level of deed a person might commit where Sifferman wouldn't want them in his country and city? Based on his book, I know KJ is for essentially unlimited immigration but is he also for totally prohibited deportation? I have seen posts where he and bh seem to be against deportations for what they think are trivial crimes. I've long been curious what, if anything, they think warrants deportation. Even if the law profs also want the repeat offenders in this case to return and become citizens, I expect them not to condone the methods SF used to further that goal if they believe them to be illegal.

The politicians (and I include police chiefs in that category) sell sanctuary as a public benefit. How exactly is a revolving door for drug dealers good for San Franciscans? This situation is proof that some politicians will go to extraordinary ends to protect aliens who commit crime. The feeling one gets from reading their comments is that what's in the interest of the rest of the 'residents' (you know, the legal ones) never crosses their minds. Not a word about that in the article.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 1, 2008 1:20:57 AM

More from the Chronicle:

8 crack dealers shielded by S.F. walk away

Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

S.F. Shielding Immigrants

S.F. shifts policy on convicted felons (7/02)

Newsom: Court has final say (7/02)

8 crack dealers in S.F. walk away (7/01)

Probe into migrant- offender protection (6/29)

(06-30) 19:49 PDT San Francisco -- 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.

<< Related story: Feds probe S.F.'s immigrant shield >>

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 nonprofitcompany 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.

San Bernardino County sheriff's Capt. Bart Gray said Silverlake had reported the Honduran youths as runaways - not as juvenile offenders. Three of the youths were listed as missing from Silverlake's Douglas House in the town of Yucaipa, 16 miles southeast of San Bernardino, on June 20 and two more on June 22, Gray said.

Juvenile probation officials say three other Honduran youths who had been convicted as juveniles in San Francisco disappeared from another Silverlake-run group home, but it was not immediately known which one.

Silverlake officials confirmed that the youths had vanished but would say nothing further, referring inquiries to San Francisco officials. Silverlake's operations officer, Jeff Boyd, said he was barred by law from commenting.
Fruit trees and farm animals

Silverlake's Web site says the company maintains 10 group homes that "exist for the sole purpose of providing a home environment and psychological health care for troubled youth. The focus of the program is to provide residents with the opportunity to gain effective control over their lives through the acquisition of rethinking skills and positive character growth."

The site adds that many of the group homes "have large lots and offer the opportunity for the residents to garden, tend to fruit trees and raise farm animals."

San Francisco sent the youths to the Southern California group homes after federal authorities demanded that they stop flying illegal immigrant juvenile offenders to their homeland without alerting immigration officials.

Turning the youths over to federal authorities for deportation could have resulted in their being legally barred from ever returning to the United States. Federal officials said the city's practice of returning the youths to their homeland to be reunited with their families did nothing to prevent drug-dealing juveniles from coming right back to the United States.
Illegal crossings

They also noted that it is a crime to help an illegal immigrant cross the border, even if it is to leave the country.

San Francisco officials countered that many of the youths were victims of drug dealers and that it wasn't fair to bar them from ever becoming citizens.

The eight youths who escaped from the San Bernardino County group homes were scheduled to be flown back to Honduras before city juvenile probation authorities halted the flights in May. They were not convicted of violent crimes, so they were ineligible to be sent to the California Youth Authority. San Francisco did not send them to the county's Log Cabin Ranch on the Peninsula for the same reason.

The eight were among dozens of young Honduran illegal immigrants who have been arrested in San Francisco in recent years for dealing drugs. Police said many of the Hondurans - some of whom they believe are actually adults - live communally in other local cities at the behest of drug lords, who finance their travel here and threaten to kill their families if they cooperate with law enforcement.

Officials say at least 22 illegal immigrants are being held at the city's juvenile hall.

San Francisco sent four illegal immigrant juvenile offenders from El Salvador and elsewhere to the Silverlake home in Yucaipa last year. All four escaped within three weeks, San Bernardino County authorities said.
County resentful

Undersheriff Richard Beemer said the practice of "dumping" youths in his county "is a huge concern."

"These are not youth placement facilities," Beemer said. "They are homes. They are not locked down."

The youths sent there are hundreds of miles from their probation officers in San Francisco, so "they end up being a problem in the community," Beemer said.

"This is in no way rehabilitating them," he said. "They are coming in and engaging in the same kind of conduct that got them sent down here."

Beemer added that "no community likes to have ex-felons. The same is true for juveniles who have committed felonies, who were engaged in criminal activity. We don't want them dumped in our community - they are not our responsibility."
'Imported' offenders

Gray, the sheriff's captain, said his community is besieged by "imported" offenders who take up an inordinate amount of his department's resources.

Lidia Stiglich, president of the San Francisco commission that oversees the Juvenile Probation Department, said she was working with the mayor's office and the probation department to decide what to do with offenders the city refuses to turn over to federal immigration authorities.

"Everyone is looking at the current policies," she said. She would not comment on the San Bernardino County escapes.

With flights home and cooperation with federal authorities ruled out and the Southern California group homes off the table, Siffermann said, "We're running out of options."

E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at [email protected].

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Posted by: Jack | Jul 3, 2008 5:42:03 AM

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