Bay Area, federal government battle over ICE raids, Oakland mayor's warning

Bay Area, federal government battle over ICE raids, Oakland mayor's warning

Agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested over 150 people in immigration raids in Northern California this week - two days after the community was tipped off by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, compared the mayor's warning on Saturday night - hours before ICE agents began knocking on doors and making arrests - to a "gang lookout yelling "police" in an appearance on Fox News. "California and the city of Oakland have declared itself "sanctuaries" for illegal aliens and refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities".

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 150 people in California in the days after Schaaf's warning of the raids, the agency announced on February 27.

More than half of these arrestees had "prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault, or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors", according to a statement from an ICE office in Los Angeles.

Schaaf disagrees. She said, "I was sharing information in a way that was legal and was not obstructing justice, and it was an opportunity to ensure that people were aware of their rights".

Since Sunday, more than 150 people have been arrested in San Francisco, Sacramento and Stockton for what ICE says are violations of federal USA immigration laws.

"She [the mayor] gave them warning and there are 800 that we are unable to locate because of that warning so that community is a lot less safe than it would have been", Homan said.

The mayor has local defenders like UC Hastings College of the Law immigration professor Richard Boswell, who says "She's trying to keep some level of peace within the community".

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Juan Pierto, an undocumented 25-year-old who has been living in the USA for 17 years, said depression is rising in his family. "ICE's tactics continue to undermine trust and cause widespread fear within our communities". The mayor said her information on the raid did not come from official channels and that given the same situation she would do it again.

Despite protests from the now sanctuary state, similar sweeps conducted throughout California in fiscal year 2017 netted more than 20,000 illegal immigrants.

Blanca Vazquez with the Bay Area-based Immigrant Liberation Movement says the Trump administration's stepped-up enforcement has galvanized immigrant communities to learn their rights and scrutinize ICE's actions.

Oakland leader Libby Schaaf has defended her warning to the public about the immigration agents' swoop.

"I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor's irresponsible decision", Homan said.

"We've often seen that actual confirmed reports that come through the local rapid-response networks and the hotlines are usually just a small percentage of how many people are actually being picked up", said Hamid Yazdan Panah with the Northern California Rapid Response and Immigrant Defense Network. Speaking in her office, the mayor said she stood by her decision to reveal an operation she learned about from confidential "credible sources". As the Trump Administration pursues their political plan of haphazardly punishing sanctuary cities, we will not cower. "Rather than focus on people who are risky criminals, we hear ICE may be terrorizing communities, including family members who are citizens".

Mijente said that the documents released Monday had been initially provided by ICE to Sen. USA intelligence officials said Russian agents penetrated voting systems in California and six other states in the 2016 election, NBC reports.

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