OAKLAND — A defiant Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf — a target of the White House and conservative pundits since she warned residents in late February of a recent impending ICE raid — pushed back hard Wednesday at fresh Trump administration attacks suggesting her actions allowed dangerous criminals to return to the streets, commit more crimes, and endanger the public.
“It is continued distraction. It is a continued perpetration of a racist lie, that immigrants are not valued members of our society,’’ Schaaf told reporters following her launch of a new ballot measure to support early childhood education. “We in Oakland know better. We in Oakland have a community that welcomes and honors all people, no matter where they came from — no matter how they got here.’’
The Democratic mayor said that continued White House attacks on Oakland conveniently “distract from the fact that even sanctuary states like California do have policies in place to allow ICE to detain the most dangerous criminals.”
Schaaf’s comments came one day after a White House law enforcement roundtable in which Trump again lambasted California’s sanctuary cities, and ICE acting director Thomas Homan again singled out Oakland. And they came as Fox News headlines blared Wednesday that “Illegal immigrants, who dodged California ICE raid after Dem mayor’s tip-off, re-arrested for new crimes.”
The mayor’s office said that — based on statements from ICE officials themselves today — “there is no evidence that any of these immigrants were from Oakland, were arrested in Oakland” or heard any warning from the mayor about impending ICE raids.
In recent weeks, Schaaf has been the focus of calls for prosecution and “Lock her up” chants at conservative rallies.
Homan specifically referenced Oakland as an example when he cited the case of a Mexican national, recently arrested in Merced, whose record included “robbery and multiple weapons violations, including carrying a concealed weapon and willful discharge of a firearm and gross negligence.”
“This alien was previously released from local custody back into the community in November 2017, following his arrest for conspiracy to commit crime and vandalism. Despite the fact we issued a detainer, he was released,’’ Homan said. But the ICE director did not specify if Oakland was the location of his release.
Schaaf said that Homan’s citation of a Merced case in attacking her was confounding.
“If they are in fact, convicted …not just arrested, but convicted — of dangerous crimes, there are procedures in place to address that,’’ she said. “That is the business of our criminal justice system, and the fact that this administration continues to deceive the American people, distract them from really inhumane immigration processes, does not change those facts.”
The Oakland mayor raised questions about the veracity of the acting ICE director’s attacks. “I think the strongest statement about ICE’s credibility is [former San Francisco regional spokesman] James Schwab’s resignation because of his refusal to continue to lie for this administration,’’ she said.
Schaaf also pointed to this week’s resignation of Fox News military analyst Ralph Peters, a retired lieutenant colonel, who said the network has become a “propaganda machine” for the administration. In doing so, Schaaf said, Peters “has acknowledged that the media is continuing to perpetuate outrageous lies and fear mongering, and that no American should take part in that
Schaaf said the specific suggestion Tuesday that she has endangered the public is a “continued distraction from the broken immigration system. It’s a continued distraction from facts — that immigrants, and undocumented immigrants have been shown to commit fewer crimes than American born citizens.”
Citing news reports which she said underscored a matter of real concern in her community, Schaaf said the Trump administration has more than tripled the number of deportations from people with no criminal background whatsoever.”“
With both the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions both referring to her as a “disgrace” — and Homan, likening her action to that of a “gang lookout yelling police” to warning fellow hoodlums, the mayor said, “this administration has really emboldened bullying, lying and hatred — and this is something that our community in Oakland is standing up against.”
As for the calls for her prosecution from conservative cable hosts and analysts, and chants about incarcerating her at recent pro-Trump rallies, Schaaf said she hopes the debate can be handled in a more civil manner.
“This has brought out a lot of ugliness from a lot of people, mostly from outside our community. I really hope people tone down the vitriol and start studying the facts,” she said. “The bullying, the misdirection have been a constant tactic of this administration, and if we believe in democracy, we cannot let it distract us. We must continue to engage in civil and thoughtful discourse, and use actual facts and data.”