Sunday, June 29, 2008
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.