Schaaf Deserves Our Thanks – and Emulation

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, in warning her community about impending ICE raids, didn’t just do the right thing.

She set an example for the rest of California to follow.

Schaaf has spent a great deal of time looking at ICE raids, meeting with ICE, and understanding what’s going on. And she has come to the realization that too many Californians haven’t yet reached: ICE is not a federal law enforcement agency. ICE is a clear and present danger to public safety. The documentation of ICE’s essentially abusive nature is extensive.

It’s a lawless organization, that violates rights without remorse and punishes communities for their political and legal stances. The words of ICE director Tom Homan should be more than enough to explain the problem. He depicts immigrants as criminals – and those who defend them as criminals. He’s threatened to arrest California politicians who were democratically elected and are lawfully and wisely exercising their power to protect public safety by refusing to cooperate with ICE.

By the logic of ICE and Homan, all Californians, by consenting to laws that protect immigrants, should be arrested. (Thank goodness they lack the detention facility capacity).

So Schaaf isn’t pursuing some political agenda. She’s protecting us. And she’s doing what really should be the bare minimum for an elected official. When an official knows that there is a gang loose that will hurt people, seize people, invade workplaces and break up American families – and when that official knows she can’t really stop that enterprise from its lawless actions – she has a duty to warn.

And if you needed any further confirmation, the fact that President Trump called her “a disgrace” demonstrates that she was doing the right thing.

Other mayors, police chiefs and California state officials should be doing the same thing. There are citizen groups around this state that are monitoring ICE activities. All Californians should be doing what we can to assist them.

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