Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, California, stands by her decision to tip off illegal immigrants that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was planning a raid, Fox News is reporting. In February, Schaaf posted a message to Twitter warning California residents that she had heard from “multiple credible sources” that an ICE raid was imminent. ICE claims her warning did make a difference — while 150 people were arrested in the Bay Area during the raid for breaking immigration laws, 900 illegal immigrants remained “at large in the community.”
“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,” said Thomas Homan, who was ICE director at the time.
Schaaf maintains that it was her moral obligation to warn the community of the raid, and gives credit to her assistant Karely Ordaz for helping her to become passionate about the immigration issue. Ordaz is a Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, a program that was enacted under the Obama administration to help children of illegal immigrants to remain in the country. While Schaaf and Ordaz cried together after Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Ordaz told Schaaf that not much would change for illegal immigrants, as they already “live in fear all of the time.”
According to BuzzFeed News, Schaaf consulted with immigrant advocates and religious leaders to help determine if she should spread the news of the impending raid.
“I thought, this information is not going to panic people,” said Schaaf. “People live in a state of panic, we have neighbors, co-workers, people we sit next to in the church pews that live in this constant state of fear and yet it is invisible to us, because it is a status they don’t wear. How could I live with myself if it came to be that my sharing this information could have kept a family together?”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf: 'I did the right thing' alerting illegal immigrants of ICE raid https://t.co/6eZDcXbOoh— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) December 28, 2018
As Schaaf expected, this resulted in backlash, including comments from President Trump himself. Republican congressman Steve King even drew up legislation that would imprison government officials for up to five years if they alerted the public to an ICE raid — the Libby Schaaf Act. Still, others have come out in support of the Oakland mayor. While the controversial decision drew criticism — as well as death threats towards her and her children — Schaaf still insists that she made the right call.
“I have no regrets, none,” she said. “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.”