We will start with SFGate's Jaxon Van Derbeken's re-hash of the story broken by the LA Times covered (thoroughly) in the last post:
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris' office on Monday defended allowing about a half dozen first-time drug offenders to clear their records by going through a job-training program, even after prosecutors learned they were deportable as undocumented immigrants.
But Harris' aides said they have since made changes in the program that would prevent a recurrence of instances in which illegal immigrants got their criminal records cleared by going through the Back on Track jobs program, which trains offenders for jobs that undocumented immigrants legally would be prevented from holding (Yeah... right. Sure they have. I'll believe that when an independent non-San Francisco government entity verifies that).
The Los Angeles Times first reported (ouch!) Monday that illegal immigrants had been enrolled in the program and that Harris' office had let several graduate and go free even after learning of their status.
The fallout Monday highlighted the pitfalls that could lie ahead for San Francisco politicians seeking higher office from a statewide electorate more conservative than the city's.
Last year, Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is now a candidate for governor, ordered juvenile justice officials to stop shielding illegal immigrant youths who commit crimes from possible deportation. On Monday, it was Harris, a candidate for attorney general, who came under scrutiny on the illegal immigration issue.
Not S.F.'s job
Harris was quoted in the Times as saying that enforcing federal immigration law was not the job of local authorities (though apparently breaking federal immigration law is). The district attorney was explaining how her office handled the case of Alexander Izaguirre, an illegal immigrant from Honduras who had been enrolled in the Back on Track program in July when he allegedly robbed a woman of her purse in Pacific Heights, then got into an SUV that drove into the victim (nearly killing her).
The woman, Amanda Kiefer, 30, suffered a fractured skull. She said in an interview Monday that she had gotten a good look at Izaguirre and the SUV driver.
"They were both laughing," Kiefer said.
Izaguirre, then 20, was one of at least seven undocumented immigrants (ILLEGAL ALIENS DAMMIT!) who participated the Back on Track program, which Harris created in 2005 as a way of reducing the number of drug offenders sent to overcrowded county jails and state prisons. In all, 113 people have successfully completed the program, with 99 failures, according to prosecutors' statistics.
Sold drugs in Tenderloin
Izaguirre was enrolled in the program after admitting to dealing drugs to an undercover officer in the Tenderloin in late 2007. He had two previous arrests, one for drugs and the other for purse snatching, records show. The charges were dropped.
The district attorney told the Times that she had not known Izaguirre was an illegal immigrant until after he was arrested for the alleged assault. Harris did not return repeated phone calls for comment Monday, and representatives of her office said she was not available.
Sheriff's deputies, who run the city's jails, screened Izaguirre after his drug arrest Dec. 7, 2007, and determined that he could fit the profile for reporting to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, sheriff's spokeswoman Eileen Hirst said.
But Hirst said there is no record of whether deputies had actually referred Izaguirre to immigration officials, who could then have asked the city to put a hold on his release. She added that the department did not keep records of referrals at the time, but now does. ("Blame the Sheriff" is a familiar refrain here. We hear it again and again. And again... I will believe the City when an independent auditor proves that the City is not shielding illegal alien criminals - they cannot be taken at their word. Either the Sheriff's department is really incompetent, or their in on the whole deal.)
Feds have a hold now
Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency placed a hold on Izaguirre in August, after he was arrested in the alleged robbery. He is still in custody awaiting trial on robbery and assault charges.
Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo, who oversees the Back on Track program, said Monday that prosecutors had assumed that offenders who sought to enroll were here legally because they had been screened by the Sheriff's Department.
After Izaguirre was arrested in the alleged assault, however, Harris' office checked and learned that six other offenders enrolled in Back on Track were not qualified to work in the United States, presumably because they were illegal immigrants.
Woo said all had been in the yearlong program for at least eight months and had been meeting all of the requirements, so Harris' office allowed them to finish the program early and have their criminal records expunged.
"Those individuals were in the program for a long period," Woo said. "When we realized there was a design flaw and they were without the ability to show they could work here legally," she said, her office "sat down and asked, 'What are we supposed to do here?'" (This alleged "design flaw" copout is bull... this agency, this government, is ALL ABOUT protecing and shielding illegal aliens. The only "flaw" was that it got exposed.)
Prosecutors concluded that they had struck what was in essence a contract with the offenders, who had fulfilled everything that was required of them.
Woo said that the "flaw" in the program had been fixed after Izaguirre's arrest and that the program now asks all those who apply whether they can legally work here ("Are you here illegaly? No? Then you're in!" What bullshit!).
Kiefer, reached in Michigan, where she moved after the attack, called the idea of clearing illegal immigrants' criminal records "crazy" (not to mention "fucked up, treasonous, insane...").
"We should be spending our tax dollars on our own citizens, not on people who are allowed to stay here after committing crimes," she said.
"I understand the whole sanctuary city thing - if people aren't causing any problems, why waste time and resources going after them?" Kiefer said. "But if they are committing crimes, they should not be here."
Here's a few choice comments from among the 993 (and counting) left by SFGate readers:
jorgeone: "Harris should be fired." (Thumbs up: 2061, Thumbs Down 80)
janicefreeman27: "Kamala Harris is the flaw in the design along with SF mayor Gavin Newsom. They have both greatly helped san francisco turn into a cesspool of what was once a great city." (Thumbs up: 1900, Thumbs down: 93)
nr5667: "She still planning on running for state AG? S.F must be an insular little republic if its politicians think they have a change outside the tip of the peninsula..."
nezumi: "I'm proud to state that I'm native San Franciscan whose family has been here since shortly after the Gold Rush and that there is not a life form at City Hall that I voted for. The Mayor and DA should be indicted on Federal Criminal Charges too numerous to expand on here; shall we start with aiding and abetting, harboring criminals, fraud, etc. No Sacramento for you KH, hope you are still on Willie's list or you will need Care Not Cash to remain in The City."
NOMAMA: "DEMAND AN FBI INVESTIGATION INTO HER, HER OFFICE & HER FINANCES."
chroncensored: "Wait till Edwin Ramos doesn't get charged with the Death Penalty. He will probably be charges with accidental firearms discharge and allowed to sue the Bolona's for unlawfully portraying gangsters. Then he'll sue and win 20 million dollars and start a scholarship under Kamala Walla Ding Dongs name. Something about "culturally affirming activities" Ar least GAVIN is breathing easier, his name ain't come up yet! Remember, the liberal stooges elected her TWICE, ONCE UNOPPOSED!"
etf: "How many times do these illegals have to do harm to citizens of this country before they are punished? How many more citizens have to be robbed or murdered? Elected officials like Harris have made the constitution of this country one big joke. It only protects illegals! What a sad state of affairs. Is there any wonder at all as to why this state is turning into a third world environment? Just look around. I've live in SF since 1973 and no longer recognize it. It's becoming more of a border town due to the so called progressive agendas. Newsom, Fong and Harris. What a huge void of leadership. SF is the Titanic and no one at city hall is going to take the helm and steer the ship away from the icebergs. SF leaders keep telling us that it's not an iceberg, but only ice cubes."
BerkeleyBW: "Public safety is obviously the last thing on the minds of people in the DA's office. It never occurs to them that their stupid policy decisions make the city more dangerous. As Adam Smith observed, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."
tax_revolt: "edlim said Ah hahaha California is doomed to become a 3rd World State of Mexico.
What are you talking about? Compared to Mexico we've already dropped to fourth world status, no respectable third world nation would pay as much as California for the pleasure of being invaded and rearranged, since that makes them smarter the only place left is fourth.
idiotnoir: "what a country! not only do we let illegal aliens into our country to steal jobs from americans and drive down wages, we will train them so they can steal even better jobs from americans!"
end_timer2: "This goes far beyond simply voting her out of office. This idiot woman DA is responsible for countless deaths that are the direct result of her NOT DOING HER JOB!! Refusing to prosecute violent gang criminals, enabling illegal immigrants to avoid arrest and deportation and coming up with insane arguments for why her office cannot and will not prosecute criminal defendants. There needs to be an investigation by the Feds and the FBI of Harris and the DA's office, as I suspect corruption on her part, probably involving large sums of money in offshore bank accounts, coming from drug gangs in return for her making sure there are no prosecutions of certain gang members/illegal immigrant gang members. There can be no other reason for her actions, except total incompetence on her part. And if that is the case, then she needs to be removed as DA, and replaced with someone who knows how to prosecute criminals so they get put away for their crimes."
And so on and so on and so on.
But... you should know that not everyone is miffed at Harris and her sorry D.A.'s office (just 99% of them)...
In fact, there are some who are actually standing up and backing the D.A. with Don Quixote-like zeal...
BeyondChron - an ultra-left website run by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and funded from the taxpayer trough - ran a piece called "Chronicles Unfair Hit On Kamala" that mostly bitched about the link that ran with the piece to her opponents' press release calling for Harris to release recidivism statistics for her "success stories" (the link has since been removed from SFGate, but can be seen here).
You see... Harman is a (gasp) "right-winger!"
Calling someone a "right-winger" in San Fran is like calling someone a "child molester" anywhere else (child molesters are held in much higher regard in S.F. than right-wingers).
Beyond Chron implies that the "attack" may have been due to sour grapes over being scooped by the LA Times, and nowhere does BC take the story on its merits - in short, it was a very fair "hit" on a crooked politician.