Oakland mayor stands behind ICE warning despite critics

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Two days after sending out a rare warning that residents in her city might be subject to widespread operations by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is standing by her controversial decision.

"It's my understanding that everything I've done has been legal," said Schaaf. "It is our legal right to be a sanctuary city. We have not broken any laws."

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Schaaf and her staff did acknowledge that she has received threats, primarily on social media in the wake of her announcement.

"Yes, but that is part of this job," said Schaaf.

In the meantime, the reaction in the community to Schaaf's announcement has been mixed. Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, whose Fruitvale district includes a large immigrant population, told ABC7News, he would have appreciated some consultation from the mayor's office ahead of time.

"I think we have to work with the neighborhood agencies to make sure we're not just creating fear," said Gallo.

"The mayor held a conference call with several leaders and partners in Oakland's immigrant community and sought their counsel on how to proceed, said Schaaf Spokesman Justin Breton. "She left that meeting encouraged she was doing the right thing."

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The Oakland Unified School District sent a robo-call out Sunday night to some 35-thousand families in the district, retiring Mayor Schaaf's warning, but also reinforcing the reality that OUSD is a "sanctuary" district that does not cooperate with ICE agents.

"We do have updated protocols when it comes to dealing with ICE and any situations that happen around our schools," said OUSD spokesman John Sasaki.

The impact of the mayor's announcement was also felt at Centro Legal De La Raza, where a staffer said an emergency hotline has received triple the normal number of calls since Saturday night.

"We have had a lot of calls on the hotline, people just wanting to ask questions and verify that the number is up and running," said Eleni Wolfe, Immigration Program Director at Centro Legal.

So far, Wolfe says Centro Legal has received no reports of enhanced ICE enforcement in Alameda County since Saturday. She noted there have been 11 ICE arrests in surrounding counties, but emphasized that was not an unusually high number.

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