In the wake of continued threats by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan to sweep up thousands of undocumented immigrants in California and other states, the Oakland City Council on Tuesday January 16 vowed again not to cooperate with the federal agency or assist with its actions in the city. Homan recently warned Californians to “hold on tight.”
A resolution passed unanimously by the council on Tuesday strengthens the city’s longstanding Sanctuary City policies, forbidding the Oakland Police Department (OPD) from providing any “law enforcement assistance, including traffic support, to ICE, including any subdivision of ICE, in any capacity, except to respond to a public safety emergency.”
“The presence of ICE in Oakland is causing trauma in the community, and causing a chilling effect that weakens cooperation with local law enforcement,” wrote City Council members Rebecca Kaplan, Desley Brooks, and Noel Gallo in a November 29 letter. “By discouraging victims and witnesses of crimes from coming forward, ICE’s actions make all of us less safe.”
Kaplan had even stronger words for ICE in her own November 30 letter: “It has become clear that ICE is now intentionally targeting non-criminals, acting to strike fear into communities based on ethnicity and national origin, and has become an arm of Trump’s racist agenda. Sending our officers to assist ICE takes them away from fighting violent crime in our community.”
Both letters and the resolution itself refer to an August 16, 2017 incident in which the Oakland Police Department “provided traffic control for an ICE operation in West Oakland” – in violation of the city’s already existing Sanctuary City policies. Kaplan’s letter also recounted that OPD officials repeated false statements to the media, originally made by ICE, that the August 16 raid was in response to a “sex trafficking operation” when in fact it was to arrest and deport resident Santos de Leon.
ICE is rumored to have set a goal to arrest 1,500 immigrants in upcoming raids.
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