During a speech on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the California Peace Officers Association in Sacramento, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions excoriated Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for her warning last month about an impending ICE operation. The Justice Department has suggested that it is investigating whether her actions merit obstruction of justice charges.
Sessions said that Schaaf allowed 800 “wanted criminals” to escape arrest and endangered law enforcement to promote “a radical open borders agenda.”
“Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community — 800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue with more difficulty in more dangerous situations, all because of one mayor’s irresponsible action…So here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote a radical open borders agenda.”
Sessions’s speech came one day after the Justice Department sued California along with Governor Jerry Brown and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra over three state laws that it claims prevent ICE officers from making deportations and arrests.
Sessions made clear his broader frustrations with the state and its protectionist policies towards illegal immigrants:
“Immigration law is the province of the federal government…I understand that we have a wide variety of political opinions out there on immigration. But the law is in the books and its purpose is clear. There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is “the supreme law of the land”…A refusal to apprehend and deport those, especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law and creates an open borders system. Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted.”
Hundreds showed up to protest the attorney general’s appearance outside of the venue, holding signs saying “Crush ICE” and chanting “What do we want? Sessions out!”
Governor Jerry Brown retailed against Sessions, saying that the Justice Department’s lawsuit was tantamount to “war against the State of California.”
Sessions spent much of the rest of Wednesday speaking to groups representing different branches of law enforcement in the state. The California State Sheriffs’ Association is the only one that actively opposes “sanctuary city” laws.