Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is facing a big backlash for her tweet that warned residents of an impending ICE operation in the area.
Now the Department of Justice is reviewing if Schaaf broke any laws.
Thomas Homan, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told “Fox & Friends” that the DOJ is investigating whether Schaaf obstructed justice by impending a raid by ICE. Homan said that about 800 illegal aliens living in Northern California may have avoided being arrested due to Schaaf’s warning.
Schaaf’s early warning may have serious consequences to public safety. ICE has repeatedly argued that it does not conduct “sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately”, but instead targets criminal aliens. ICE points to its recent five-day operation in mid-February that led to 212 arrests in the Los Angeles area. 88 percent of those arrested were convicted criminals. 55 percent had prior felony convictions or serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault, or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors.
Schaaf was harshly criticized on social media, with many accusing her of obstruction of justice and even treason. Schaaf, who says she and her family received several death threats, defended her actions in a statement: “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…This is a decision I made; I recognize it’s controversial, but I believe it’s the right thing to do.”
Tony Brass, a former federal prosecutor, said in an interview with CBS Local that her advanced warning of the immigration operation may have crossed the line: “She’s on the threshold of obstruction of justice for doing what she did. Because you put agents in danger. You put the police in danger and you put neighbors in danger.”
ICE is said to have detained 150 people in Northern California. ICE arrested 20,201 undocumented immigrants throughout California in 2017, 81 percent of whom were convicted criminals.
Oakland has some of the strictest sanctuary city policies in the country. According to Brass, Schaaf’s warning could further undermine cooperation and communication between federal agents and local law enforcement, endangering public safety.
CNN defended Schaaf’s action in an editorial piece, calling it “righteous”, and claiming that under the Trump administration, “an ugly deportation force has been indiscriminately terrorizing immigrant and Latino communities”.