Federal immigration agents recently arrested more than 150 people in Northern California during a three-day sweep of raids that began Sunday, spreading from Sacramento to the Central Valley. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have said that number would have been higher, though, if it hadn't been for one woman: Oakland Major Libby Schaaf blew ICE's cover by tipping off residents about the raid. While ICE is taking its gripes with Oakland's mayor public, Schaaf is making it known she has no regrets.
"I do not regret sharing this information," Schaaf said in a statement Wednesday. "My statement on Saturday was meant to give all residents time to learn their rights and know their legal options. It was my intention that one mother, or one father would use the information to help keep their family together."
Schaaf went on to stress her commitment to Oakland being a sanctuary city. "It is Oakland's legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws," the major said. "We believe our community is safer when families stay together."
In a statement condemning Schaaf for warning Oakland residents about the raid, ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan called her decision "reckless" and argued it had put his officers at increased risk. "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.
Homan claimed there were 864 "criminal aliens and public safety threats" still "at large" in the community following ICE's three-day raids. "I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor's irresponsible decision," Homan said. ICE did not elaborate as to what, or rather who, they considered to be a "public safety threat." The agency did, however, note that "about half of the individuals arrested" during their sweep "also have criminal convictions in addition to their immigration violations, including convictions for assault or battery, crimes against children, weapons charges, and DUI."
In a press release Sunday, Schaaf warned that she'd learned "from multiple credible sources" that ICE "is preparing to conduct an operation in the Bay Area, including Oakland, starting as soon as within the next 24 hours." The mayor went on to say in the press release that she was sharing the tip "not to panic our residents but to protect them."
"My priority is for the well-being and safety of all residents — particularly our most vulnerable — and I know that Oakland is safer when we share information, encourage community awareness, and care for our neighbors," Schaaf said in the press release.
But Schaaf doesn't dispute claims she's in disagreement with where the Trump administration stands on immigration. In fact, in January, she told reporters she would continue to defend Oakland's sanctuary city policies, even if it meant she faced jail time.
"I consider myself a law-abiding citizen. I consider myself a believer in an American democracy that moves towards a more just society," Schaaf said in a recent interview with the Washington Post. "And I definitely consider myself part of the resistance." She told the Post she was thinking of the undocumented immigrants who, despite not having criminal records, continue to get swept up in ICE raids under the Trump administration when she decided to issue her warning.
"I think it's my responsibility as a person in power and privilege to share the information I have access to, to make sure people know what their rights are," Schaaf told the Post.