In spite of calls for her arrest by right-wing news outlets and Twitter users, the mayor of Oakland, California is standing by her decision last weekend to warn undocumented residents about raids federal immigration agents had planned for the Northern part of the state.
"As advocates, we took [the warning] very seriously. When do you hear a mayor of a big city announcing that an ICE attack is going to happen? Never."
—Maricela Gutiérrez, SIREN
Mayor Libby Schaaf, a Democrat, tweeted Saturday evening that she had "learned from multiple credible sources that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)" was planning to act on previous threats from the agency and start raids in Northern California "within the next 24 hours."
However, hundreds of other immigrants targeted by ICE were not apprehended, which acting director Thomas Homan attributed partly to what he called "the mayor's irresponsible decision." Homan, known for his xenophobic rhetoric, claimed in a statement that "864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community." In an interview with Fox & Friends, he attacked Schaaf again, and said the Justice Department is looking into whether she obstructed justice.
Meanwhile, Schaaf—who declared last month that she would go to jail to defend Oakland's sanctuary city policies—maintains that she does not regret her actions and believes "our city is safer when we share information that leads to community awareness."
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. We believe our community is safer when families stay together. pic.twitter.com/ng13yq431L
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) February 28, 2018
Reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle noted that this marked an escalation in local resistance to President Donald Trump's deportation agenda, writing that Schaaf's warning "was among the most assertive maneuvers by a local politician to counter the Trump administration's crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The message: Not only will Oakland and its police force not cooperate with ICE, but the city will actively seek to thwart efforts to detain and deport immigrants."
California's Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed his support, and said Schaaf's action could even serve as inspiration for other local leaders: "We can and must protect immigrant families from Donald Trump's mass deportations. I want to thank Mayor Schaaf for her courage and hope more local leaders will follow her lead."
Maricela Gutiérrez, executive director of the immigrant rights group SIREN, told the Washington Post that although Schaaf's announcement caused some panic, "As advocates, we took [the warning] very seriously. When do you hear a mayor of a big city announcing that an ICE attack is going to happen? Never. If she's saying that, it must be true."
"It really created a mass mobilization," Gutiérrez added, explaining that advocates were able to distribute information about legal resources to undocumented members of the community.