Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said she has no regrets for warning the public of impending immigration operations and that she would do it again.
Schaaf has come under heavy criticism from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for announcing that immigration operations were going to happen the day before they started.
More than 150 people alleged to have violated immigration laws were arrested in Northern California as part of ICE operations that began Sunday, the agency announced Tuesday. Half of those arrested had criminal convictions, according to ICE.
In the same statement announcing the arrests, ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan slammed Schaaf’s decision to alert the public as “reckless” and “irresponsible.”
Schaaf had issued a warning on Saturday and held a press conference the following day, announcing that she had learned that ICE would conduct operations in the Bay Area.
“I am sharing this information publicly not to panic our residents but to protect them,” she had said. “My priority is for the well-being and safety of all residents — particularly our most vulnerable.”
ICE said that her announcement may have tipped off people with criminal records. Homan said 864 immigrants with criminal records “remain at large in the community and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”
“The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda,” Homan said in a statement.
Schaaf pushed back on ICE’s criticism at a Wednesday press conference.
“We have to fight against the racist myth that the Trump administration is trying to perpetuate — that immigrants are dangerous criminals,” she said.
“I do not regret sharing this information. It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
On Thursday, the White House said the Department of Justice was reviewing Schaaf’s actions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
California and feds at odds
ICE also directed its criticism at San Francisco and Oakland, which are sanctuary cities — meaning local jurisdictions that have some policy of non-cooperation or coordination with federal immigration authorities.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Oakland shield dangerous criminal aliens from federal law enforcement at the expense of public safety,” Homan said. “Because these jurisdictions prevent ICE from arresting criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail, they also force ICE officers to make more arrests out in the community, which poses increased risks for law enforcement and the public.”
On Wednesday, protesters swarmed the streets outside ICE’s office in San Francisco, chanted slogans and wrote a message in chalk in the intersection that read: “Bay Area United Against ICE! Keep Families Together!”
President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up enforcement of immigration laws in California as an effort to pressure sanctuary cities.
A California law that bars state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources to assist federal immigration authorities, went into effect this year. The new state law drew a sharp response from Homan who in January, vowed more special agents and deportation officers in California.
Among the 150 people arrested by ICE in the past few days, include a fugitive and gang member who had been previously been deported four times and others with criminal convictions including assault, DUI and sex with a minor under 16 years old, the agency said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California portrayed a different picture and alleged that ICE agents have been “aggressively intimidating families in their homes and using tactics of racial profiling to detain people in public spaces.”