OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Mayor Libby Schaaf found herself once again in the spotlight Wednesday with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claiming a warning she issued before a series of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids allowed 800 criminals to evade arrest.
Sessions in a speech before an annual conference organized by California Peace Officers’ Association said Schaaf “has been actively seeking to help illegal aliens avoid apprehension by ICE.”
“According to acting (ICE) director (Thomas) Homan, ICE failed to make 800 arrests that would have been made if the mayor has not made her statement,” Sessions said. “Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community. 800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue by other means.”
“So here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf,” the attorney general continued. “How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officials to promote a radical open borders agenda.”
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At a press conference hours later, Schaaf fired back.
“How dare you vilify members of our community by trying to frighten the American public into thinking that all undocumented residents are dangerous criminals.” she said. “Hard-working, law-abiding Oaklanders like Eusebio Sanchez and Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, who you ripped away from their American-born children and the cancer patients at our public hospital who relied on Maria’s nursing skills every day.”
“How dare you distract the American people from a failed immigration system that tears apart decent families and forces the workers that our economy depends on to harvest our crops, deliver our services, and build our cities to live in fear and work under oppressed conditions.
“How dare you distort the reality about declining violent crime rates in a diverse, sanctuary city like Oakland to advance a racist agenda.”
Schaaf said her administration’s role is to make “neighborhoods safe and ensuring that the children of my community – no matter where they came from or how they got here – have every opportunity for success.”
“No one elected me to be fearful,” Schaaf said.”They elected me to stand up for the people of my community…They elected me to have courage during difficult times — and these are difficult times.”
Schaaf spoke to KPIX 5 about lawyering up in the wake of the threats from the White House and the DOJ.
“I have been in consultation. I take these claims very seriously,” said Schaaf.
The mayor isn’t talking to just any lawyer. She is working with Melinda Haag, the former U.S. Attorney for Northern California.
On Wednesday, the mayor’s comments to reporters appeared to be given with one eye on the legal line she may not have crossed. They were also light on the question of whether she endangered law enforcement officers or lead to criminals getting away.
“I was very careful in not sharing any specific information about these ICE raids that might have endangered ICE enforcement,” said Schaaf.
Last week, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a daily press briefing that the Justice department was researching actions to take against Schaaf.
“I think it’s outrageous that a mayor would circumvent federal authorities and certainly put them in danger by making a move such as that. And that’s currently under review by the Department of Justice, and I don’t have anything else to add.”
Schaaf said she has yet to be contacted by federal investigators.