Jaxon Van Derbeken writes a follow-up article in the SFGate on the criminal activities of the SF Juvenile Probation Dept.
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-alien 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 not-for-profit outfit 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 the city is trying to come up with an approach for how to handle 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 the practice of flying illegal alien juvenile offenders to their homelands without alerting immigration officials.
Turning over the youths 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 homelands to be reunited with their families did nothing to prevent drug-dealing juveniles from coming right back to the United States.
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.
Not eligible for CYA
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 there are at least 22 illegal immigrants 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.
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."
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."
Here's an option you flaming incompetent asshole... Turn them over to the Feds!
These people should - at the very very least - be fired, and preferably jailed, for illegally evading the Federal Authorities and allowing illegal alien drug dealers to escape to do harm to American citizens - all with taxpayer money.
If there is a better definition of "treason" I haven't heard it in a long long time.