Oakland, California —like most cities in the Golden State — considers themselves a Sanctuary City, a place where undocumented immigrants can feel somewhat protected from persecution. However, as we’ve come to learn this year — no undocumented immigrant is safe from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Despite repeated threats from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE director Thomas D. Homan against sanctuary cities and city officials, one mayor did not back down and warned their residents.
On Feb. 24, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a direct message to people in her community: ICE is coming. That warning saved hundreds. While several reports indicated that ICE was planning a raid in the Bay Area, the warning from Schaaf was more personal.
“I am sharing this information publicly not to panic our residents but to protect them,” Schaaf said her news release. “My priority is for the well-being and safety of all residents, particularly our most vulnerable.”
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) February 25, 2018
She told the San Francisco Chronicle that it’s her duty to protect the people in Oakland.
“When an official has information that could help people, it’s their duty to share it,” Schaaf told The SF Chronicle. “Having information before an ICE action can make a tremendous difference.”
What a difference it truly made. The ICE raid occurred just days later on Feb. 27, but people were prepared. ICE reported that they detained 150 people, but their target was much higher. They wanted more than 864 undocumented people.
“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 with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold,” Homan said in a press release statement. “Thanks to the dedicated and professional work of ICE deportation officers, we were able to remove many public safety threats from the streets of the Bay Area during the past few days. However, 864 criminal aliens and public safety threats 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.”
In a response to Homan’s comments, Schaaf said she had zero regrets about releasing the initial warning to Bay Area residents.
“I do not regret sharing this information,” Schaaf said in a tweet. “It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws. We believe our community is safer when families stay together.”