In a speech Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif., Attorney General Jeff Sessions blasted Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for tipping off illegal immigrants late last month about upcoming raids.
“So here’s my message for Mayor Schaaf: How dare you. How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote a radical open borders agenda,” Sessions said at a meeting of the California Peace Officers Association. The Justice Department also announced Wednesday a lawsuit against California to overturn three laws that protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
Schaaf defended her warning, which came in the form of a tweet on Feb. 24, as a “moral obligation” to warn people of the possible threat of law enforcement, in keeping with Oakland’s stance as a sanctuary city.
But a statement days later by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Thomas Homan noted the mayor’s “reckless decision” helped shield at least 864 criminals known to be in the Bay Area and enabled them to elude capture “at the expense of public safety.”
He likened Schaaf’s alert to being “no better than a gang lookout yelling, ‘police!’ when a police cruiser comes into a neighborhood.”
Schaaf said she wanted to protect the “most vulnerable” and to prepare residents with her information. Besides providing a link to a legal services and representation website, she reminded people that Oakland police officers and public school officials could not participate in ICE raids. Illegal workers received her further assurance: “California state law prohibits business owners from assisting ICE agents in immigration enforcement and bars federal agents from accessing employee-only areas.”
Even so, ICE agents announced making 150 arrests in the days after the public tip-off.
“About half of the individuals arrested also have criminal convictions in addition to their immigration violations, including … assault/battery, crimes against children, weapons charges, and DUI,” according to an ICE statement.
Statistics for California as a whole show ICE arrested over 20,000 illegal immigrants in 2017, of which 81 percent had other criminal convictions.
In asserting her right to help her city “of law-abiding immigrants,” Schaaf told USA Today, “We believe our community is safer when families stay together.” But she ignored those who were not living under the law and instead focused attention on a person’s origin: “Our values are to protect all of our residents regardless of where we come from,” she told KTVU in January, calling the president the “bully in chief” and accusing him of intimidation of “vulnerable residents.”
President Barack Obama prioritized deporting illegal immigrants who were convicted of crimes and categorized as a “serious” threat. In 2015, he directed ICE to release over 90,000 illegal immigrants deemed to be simply “criminal” threats, according to NumbersUSA. The Obama administration in 2014 suspended ICE’s Secure Communities program, under which individuals faced removal from the U.S. first and foremost because of criminal violations rather than their immigration status.
The Trump administration revived the Secure Communities program upon his inauguration, and 2017 figures showed 363,400 criminal illegal immigrants deported. Trump has asked local law enforcement to cooperate with federal ICE agents whenever they plan to release illegal immigrants to prevent those with criminal records from committing further crimes, but sanctuary cities like Oakland refuse to participate. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government may not force the states to enforce federal law—especially at their own expense.
Psalm 82’s opening question is relevant for Schaaf and others caught up in the sanctuary movement’s assumption that even criminal immigrants are somehow victims: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?”