A nonprofit advocacy group favoring tighter borders on Monday filed a lawsuit against multiple Oakland city officials over a warning Mayor Libby Schaaf issued in February to residents ahead of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation.
Schaaf drew widespread condemnation from border hawks and President Donald Trump after she delivered what many regarded as a tipoff to illegal immigrants that ICE was coming.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) requested public records of communications between Schaaf and police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick on February 23 and February 24. Representatives from the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), FAIR’s legal arm, said the city ignored the request.
“They’ve forced our hand, so we’ve filed a lawsuit,” sad Dale Wilcox, executive director of IRLI.
Oakland officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court
Trump called Schaaf a “disgrace” following her action. Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan likened her to a “gang lookout.” And Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a group of California sheriffs that Schaaf’s action did “flout the law,” and it “validates illegality.”
Homan said at the time that Schaaf helped more than 800 criminal illegal immigrants avoid arrest during the raid.
Among the 150 illegal immigrants that ICE did arrest was Armando Nunez-Salgado, a 39-year-old Mexican man and documented gang member who had been deported four previous times. His criminal record includes convictions for burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and a hit-and-run, causing injury.
Don Rosenberg, founder of Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime, blasted Schaaf.
“Politicians like Libby Schaaf may claim they are compassionate, but thwarting ICE operations puts innocent people’s lives in danger,” he said in a statement provided by IRLI. “The politicians in San Francisco made the same claim, and my son is now dead.”
Wilcox said he hopes emails and other records will shed light on where Schaaf got her information about the raid. She has said publicly she learned of it from an informal source but did not elaborate.
In addition, Wilcox said, IRLI and FAIR want to find out if Schaaf acted on her own or tipped off the public after a deliberative process.
“Obviously, she is a radical, open borders mayor and has … made statements that she’s willing to go to jail to protect illegal aliens,” he said.
Homan said earlier this year on “Fox and Friends” that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was reviewing Schaaf’s actions as a possible violation of the federal alien harboring law.
Wilcox said “political considerations” could spare Schaaf, but he added that her actions almost certainly fit the statute.
“That’s what she did,” he said. “She was giving people a heads-up … Any other employer who would do something like this would certainly be charged.”
Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah said at Monday’s briefing that the administration remains committed to ending “sanctuary” polices.
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“We believe that California should help us, that all municipalities and states should help the federal government in enforcing federal law, in helping to deport, when appropriate, criminal illegal immigrants and, you know, help, I guess, stem the tide of illegal immigration in the United States,” he said. “It’s actually on the rise now.”
The city has not responded — far exceeding the 10-day timeline set forth by law.
As for the open-records suit, Wilcox said it is fairly straightforward. He said California’s open records law clearly covers the material that IRLI seeks. He said IRLI made the request in March. The city responded in April with a promise to process it soon. The city has not responded since then, far exceeding the 10-day timeline set forth by law, he said.
“I expect this to move along very quickly,” he said.