Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who sparked national outrage when she undermined a federal immigration raid last month, worked with illegal-immigration activists before she warned the public about the raid– a move that ICE said led to hundreds of illegals evading detention.
Schaaf took to Twitter to warn the public about the raid, and has stood by her decision despite a number of hardened criminals being caught — and ICE officials warning that potentially hundreds of other criminals escaped as a consequence of the tipoff.
“It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws,” Schaaf said in a statement last month. “We believe our community is safer when families stay together.”
Her move sparked anger not just from ICE officials, but also the Trump administration. The Justice Department is currently conducting a review of Schaaf’s actions.
“What happened in Oakland was a disgrace to our nation,” President Donald Trump said in California on Tuesday.
KPIX5 reports that Schaaf was in touch with Centro Legal de la Raza just hours before the announcement, giving her information on what employers should do in the case of an ICE raid.
That group, which did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News, is a nonprofit with a focus on providing legal services to those in the country illegally. It also appears to act as an advocacy group for illegal immigrants — printing an “ICE Activity Hotline” on its website.
“Centro Legal has been at the forefront of efforts to curtail unlawful collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities in order to prevent unjust deportations and keep immigrant families together,” the group’s website says. It does not appear to be affiliated with UnidosUS — formerly the National Council of La Raza.
According to KPIX5, Schaaf also spoke with a Catholic priest at St. Jarlath’s Church and Emma Paulino at Oakland Community Organizations. Paulino appeared with Schaaf at a press conference warning of the raid.
“It is important for us to understand that sometimes what ICE is doing with these tactics is to try and paralyze our communities,” she said.
Paulino told Fox News Friday that the conversations were about assessing whether or not to share the information with the community in the first place, and then how to do so in a way that did not create panic.
“It was about if we should share what we know and how to share that information in a responsible way so to not create panic in the community,” she said. “People live in fear already.”
KPIX5 reports that the emails also show that the Oakland Indie Alliance, a group of independent businesses, received a message saying, “Important Alert! Credible information ICE Raids in Oakland Sunday 2/25 and Monday 2/26” and, “This information comes directly from the Mayor.”
A spokesman for Schaaf told Fox News that she consulted “with several leaders and groups representing our immigrant community before she made her public comments.”
“She mentioned it in her initial press release and in numerous public statements after; it’s well known that she conferred with several people before making her decision,” he said.
He also said that she did not warn businesses, although added that “it appears those who she consulted with may have shared the information with business owners in an attempt to make sure the owners knew their obligations and responsibilities under state law.”
Families of victims of illegal immigrant crime have expressed their anger at Schaaf’s actions, calling for her to be prosecuted, as have groups which lobby for less migration into the U.S.
“As far as Libby Schaaf is concerned, what she did is nothing short of obstruction of justice,” said Ira Mehlman, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“She is not compelled to assist ICE in doing its job, but she certainly has no right to interfere with ICE carrying out its lawful duties,” he said. “In our view, the U.S. Department of Justice should look into the matter and prosecute her for obstruction if the circumstances warrant legal action.”
But amid the national controversty, Paulino told Fox News that Schaaf’s stance was getting a very positive reception in Oakland.
“People are really supportive of her because she took a stand,” she said. “She is serving the people who elected her.”