Speaking on Fox & Friends on February 28, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Thomas Homan said that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s public warning on Twitter on the night of February 24 that immigration raids in her city were upcoming was “beyond the pale.” Homan said, “What [Schaaf] 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.”
Schaaf alerted residents that she had heard from multiple sources that ICE agents would be conducting enforcement operations in the Bay area imminently and urged those aliens who are in the country illegally to take precautions.
Homan said in a statement on February 27: “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.”
Schaaf defended her decision in a statement made the same day as Homan’s: “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.”
“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.”
Those who make the argument that it is necessary to help illegal aliens avoid deportation so they can “stay together” never suggest that a family can stay together by being deported together as a family.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Oakland shield dangerous criminal aliens from federal law enforcement at the expense of public safety,” Homan said in a statement. “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.”
ICE went ahead with its wide-sweeping raids in the Bay area over the weekend (called “Operation Keep Safe”) and arrested more than 150 illegal aliens in the first three days of the operation. However, said Homan, “There’s 800 that we are unable to locate because of that warning, so that community is a lot less safe than it would have been.”
An AP report cited an ICE statement that about half of the people arrested in the San Francisco area have criminal convictions in addition to immigration violations, including convictions for assault, weapons offenses, and driving under the influence.
After Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Values Act (SB 54) into law last October 5, which prohibited state and local agencies from enforcing immigration laws or from working with immigration enforcement agencies, Homan issued a strongly worded statement that said, in part: “Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign SB 54 and make California a sanctuary state for illegal aliens — including those who have committed crimes — will undermine public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission. The governor is simply wrong when he claims otherwise.”
Perhaps the part of Homan’s statement that received the most attention in the media, however, was: “ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community. ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California.”
SB 54 went into effect on January 1 and, apparently, Homan’s prediction about how it would impact ICE’s enforcement activities has now come to pass. “California better hold on tight,” Homan warned in early January. “If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will.”
President Trump had obviously become very frustrated with California’s “sanctuary state” policies on February 22, when, during a White House meeting to discuss school safety with local and state officials, he said he was thinking of pulling ICE agents out of the state.
We observed in our article about Trump’s comments about considering pulling ICE out of California that ICE would not be able to take any action in California if the president decides to pull ICE out of the state. Since that course of action would create many more problems than it would solve, we expressed our opinion that it is difficult to imagine Trump actually taking that extreme action. We chalked it up to just something a very frustrated president said while blowing off steam.
We suggested that it is more likely that the Justice Department will increase its efforts to enforce 8 U.S.C. 1373 — “Communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.”
The first paragraph of the law reads:
Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.
Last weekend’s roundup and arrest of 150 illegal aliens in Northern California in “Operation Keep Safe” and Homan’s strongly worded condemnation of Schaaf indicates that ICE is not yet ready to pack up its bags and leave the Golden State — despite the lack of cooperation from the state’s officials, from Governor Brown on down.
Image: Screenshot from ICE.gov