An effort by San Francisco to shield eight Honduran crack dealers from federal immigration officials backfired when the youths escaped from Southern California group homes within days of their arrival, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. 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. Eight Honduran juveniles who had been convicted of dealing drugs in San Francisco were sent within the past few weeks to group homes; within 10 days of being sent to the unlocked homes, however, all eight youths ran away.