More than 200 people were arrested on immigration violations during a four-day operation in Northern California, but authorities said that hundreds eluded capture because of a warning from Oakland’s mayor.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said officers made 232 arrests from Sunday to Wednesday arrests and renewed threats of a bigger street presence in California, where state law sharply limits cooperation with immigration authorities at local jails.
The Trump administration has cracked down on so-called sanctuary policies, insisting that local law enforcement inform federal agents when they are about to release immigrants discovered to be living in the country illegally.
Defenders of so-called “sanctuary” practices say they improve public safety by promoting trust among law enforcement and immigrant communities and reserving scarce police resources for other, more urgent crime-fighting needs.
Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted on Saturday that an immigration operation was imminent in the San Francisco area, including Oakland, possibly within 24 hours.
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) February 25, 2018
It was unclear how many people would have eluded capture without the mayor’s warning. Targets often elude authorities because agents don’t have search warrants and advocacy groups have waged public awareness campaigns urging people not to open their doors. Other times, agents have outdated addresses or targets are not home.
The federal agency’s acting director, Thomas Homan, said Wednesday that Schaaf’s warning caused about 800 “criminals” to elude capture, an extraordinarily high number of missed targets.
More than 100 of the people arrested had criminal records, including convictions for child sex crimes, weapons charges and assault, ICE said. The agency didn’t release their names, except for one who was considered a high-profile target, making it impossible to verify individual cases.
“ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community,” the agency said.
White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders criticized Schaaf’s tweet.
“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,” Huckabee said Thursday. “And that’s currently under review by the Department of Justice.”
Sanders didn’t elaborate but Homan said Wednesday that the Justice Department was looking into whether the mayor obstructed justice.
The mayor has repeatedly defended her actions, saying Wednesday that she was not tipped off by “official sources” and that she didn’t reveal specific locations.
“It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws,” she said. “We believe our community is safer when families stay together.”
I do not regret sharing this information. It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws. We believe our community is safer when families stay together. pic.twitter.com/ng13yq431L
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) February 28, 2018
California won’t register to vote those in US illegally
Immigrants living in the U.S. illegally will not automatically be registered to vote in California come April, despite online stories claiming that’s the case.
At issue is a California law taking effect in April that will automatically register people to vote when they get a driver’s license, an ID card, or update their address with the Department of Motor Vehicles. California allows immigrants living in the country illegally to obtain drivers licenses, leading some websites to falsely claim they’ll be automatically signed up to vote.
California’s new program has safeguards to ensure only U.S. citizens can go through the voter registration process. A DMV worker processing a drivers’ license application for an undocumented immigrant, for example, will not be able to access the voter registration boxes, which will be grayed out.
“To be eligible, you have to be a U.S. citizen,” said Jessica Gonzalez, a DMV spokeswoman.