'I Did the Right Thing': Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Defends Tipping Off Immigrants Ahead of Ice Raid

A mayor who warned Northern California residents about an imminent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid said she did not regret her action.

In February, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was twice tipped off about an impending ICE raid and organized a meeting with immigrant advocates and religious leaders to warn the public about the operation.

She posted a warning on Twitter claiming the immigration agency was "preparing to conduct an operation in the Bay Area, including Oakland."


— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) February 25, 2018

Her decision was both praised and criticized and marked a pivotal juncture in the relationship between federal agencies and so-called sanctuary cities, which forbid cooperating with deportation efforts.

"I have no regrets, none," Schaff told BuzzFeed in an interview.

"The more time goes by, the more certain I feel that I did the right thing in standing up for our community and pointing out our values are not aligned with our laws.

"That's hopefully the message that is sent out."

Schaaf, a Democrat, also criticized the federal immigration agency, suggesting it should be abolished.

"This agency has gone astray and has so broken the trust, particularly in cities like mine, I believe we would all be better served to start from scratch."

According to ICE, Schaaf's warning resulted in 150 people arrested for violating U.S. immigration laws in the San Francisco Bay Area, while approximately 900 illegal immigrants were thought to have remained "at large in the community" as they couldn't be arrested.

"What she 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," then-acting ICE Director Thomas Homan told Fox & Friends in February.

"There's over 800 significant public safety threat criminals […] that we are unable to locate because of that warning, so that community's a lot less safe than it would've been."

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prosecute Schaaf.

"You talk about obstruction of justice, I would recommend you look into obstruction of justice for the mayor of Oakland, California, Jeff," Trump said during a White House roundtable discussion with California elected officials and law enforcement officers.

In the same month, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa introduced the bill, calling for up to five years of imprisonment for officials who are found to have obstructed the enforcement of federal laws.

The proposal, introduced as the Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018, seeks to impose criminal penalties on "sanctuary" city officials who intervene in Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations.

Libby Schaaf
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf speaks to students at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, California, on January 19. Schaaf discussed the U.S. Constitution with middle schoolers a day after she said she would be willing to go to jail to defend Oakland's sanctuary city policy following rumors that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be conducting raids and arresting up to 1,500 undocumented immigrants in Northern California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images