Sanctuary City Policies Strengthened by Oakland, Bars Any City Employee From Cooperating With ICE

Oakland City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to bar any branch of city government from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The resolution mandates that city employees do not aide immigration agents in any capacity before, during, or after planned ICE raids within the city limits.

The vote came a day after the San Francisco Chronicle reported plans by ICE to launch a series of raids across the Bay Area to arrest upwards of 1,500 undocumented and unauthorized immigrants. The raids were understood to be a response to California's recently enacted sanctuary state law that limits the federal government's ability to obtain custody of immigrants detained in state jails and forbids police officers from arresting people on civil immigration warrants and joining immigration task forces.

The resolution is also in response to recent reports that the Department of Justice is considering arresting state and local officials if they enforce so-called sanctuary policies: Earlier this month, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan said on Fox News that the Justice Department needs to "start charging some of these politicians" in sanctuary cities.

“The head of ICE has made public statements that have helped make it more clear that ICE is not actually focusing on solving serious and violent crime, but is focused on being part of [President Donald] Trump’s political vendetta,” Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who introduced the resolution alongside Councilwoman Desley Brooks, told the Oakland Tribune on Wednesday.

06_24_Sanctuary_city_legislation Maya Casillas, 7, joins migrant rights groups during a vigil to protest against President Donald Trump's crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” outside of Los Angeles City Hall on January 25. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty

In a statement, Homan decried the City Council's vote as irresponsible and dangerous.

“I am saddened by the Oakland City Council’s obvious lack of concern for law enforcement officers’ well-being and their careless disregard for their own responsibility to protect public safety,” he said.

The vote was celebrated by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who on Wednesday told a local CBS affiliate that she would go to jail if it meant defending her city's sanctuary policies.

“We are exercising our legal right to be a Sanctuary City and to protect our residents,” Schaaf told KPIX 5 of her opposition to ICE raids. “The fact that the federal government is suggesting that it is actively retaliating against jurisdictions that are exercising their right to have sanctuary policies—that is what is illegal.”

According to the Chronicle, Bay Area officials have not been notified by ICE of any upcoming mass raids, but it's unclear whether local authorities would receive any notice from the agency before such raids took place.

Proponents of sanctuary policies contend that distancing the federal government from local authorities allows immigrants to better report crimes and other issues to city governments. Detractors say that such policies are a violation of federal law and undermine the country's ability to enforce its immigration policies.

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