The Department of Justice is reviewing whether Oakland’s mayor obstructed justice by attempting to thwart ICE arrests.
Oakland, CA – The Department of Justice is reviewing whether or not Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf obstructed justice on Feb. 24, when she issued a warning to illegal immigrants that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials were planning to conduct mass arrests throughout the Bay Area.
“I am sharing this information publicly not to panic our residents but to protect them,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a press release at the time. “We want residents to prepare.”
“What she did is no better than a gang lookout yelling ‘police’ when a police cruiser comes in the neighborhood, except she did it to a whole community,” acting ICE Director Thomas Homan told FOX News on Wednesday morning.
“There’s over 800 significant public safety threat criminals … that we are unable to locate because of that warning, so that community’s a lot less safe than it would’ve been,” he continued.
During her Feb. 24 announcement, Schaaf, who is seeking reelection, said she felt it was her “duty” as mayor to alert illegal immigrants about the impending raids.
“I know that Oakland is a city of law-abiding immigrants and families who deserve to live free from the constant threat of arrest and deportation,” Schaaf said, according to The Seattle Times. “I believe it is my duty and moral obligation as mayor to give those families fair warning when that threat appears imminent.”
“We understand ICE has used activity rumors in the past as a tactic to create fear,” she added.
Schaaf said that she consulted with “legal counsel” prior to issuing the warning, and that she was “confident that my sharing of this information, because I did not receive it through official channels, is legal,” The Seattle Times reported.
ICE had arrested more than 150 illegal immigrants in the Oakland area as of Tuesday, despite Schaaf’s warning, FOX News reported.
However, Homan blamed Schaaf for enabling 864 other illegal immigrants to avoid apprehension.
According to ICE, about half of those arrested during the three-day raids had criminal convictions for offenses including assault and battery, crimes against children, and weapons charges.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Oakland shield dangerous criminal aliens from federal law enforcement at the expense of public safety,” Homan said, according to KRON. “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.”
Homan argued that Schaaf’s “reckless decision was based on her political agenda,” and said that agents will continue to protect public safety, “unlike the politicians who attempt to undermine ICE’s critical mission,” FOX News reported.
Schaaf defended her decision again in a tweet on Tuesday, and said she did “not regret sharing this information.”
“It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws,” the mayor wrote.
#WhiteHouse spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing #Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's warning about Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in the Bay Area. https://t.co/YSzz8WPj4x pic.twitter.com/vBnc1A7c2m
— KPIX 5 (@CBSSF) March 1, 2018
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D – California) defended Schaaf in the wake of the raids, and said she was “outraged and devastated” that ICE had “instilled fear throughout our community,” KRON reported.
“Make no mistake, these raids are a direct result of President Trump’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda – an agenda I condemn and remain committed to resisting,” Lee said.
Do you think that the mayor criminally obstructed justice? We’d like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.