In California, the sanctuary state that also serves as the de facto capital of the anti-Trump resistance movement, picking a fight with President Donald Trump’s administration on immigration like Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf did last week could be a “defining moment” if Schaaf wants to run for statewide office.
Schaaf made national headlines when she tipped off illegal immigrants that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was planning raids and even got White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to say that it is “outrageous that a mayor would circumvent federal authorities and certainly put them in danger by making a move such as that.”
“And that’s currently under review by the Department of Justice, and I don’t have anything else to add,” Huckabee Sanders continued.
Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, blistered Schaaf for shielding “dangerous criminals” with her “reckless decision.” But according to Politico, the buzz is that if “Schaaf has a future run for higher office in her,” last week will be remembered “as a defining moment.”
“Sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Oakland shield dangerous criminal aliens from federal law enforcement at the expense of public safety,” Homan said. “The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold.”
But all of that outrage from the Trump administration could be great campaign material for Schaaf in a potential statewide primary as the Golden State lurches further to the left in the Trump era.
Politico suggested that “Schaaf should save” Homan’s statement “for a future political ad. In heavily Democratic California, pointed conflict with the Trump administration is highly prized, and the field of Democratic politicians vying for attention is large.”
“For a mayor of Oakland — not a governor of mayor of Los Angeles or San Francisco — count the unfolding events this week as a political coup,” Politico added.
Homan also said that Schaaf was like a “gang lookout yelling ‘police’” and pointed out that at least 800 illegal immigrant criminals were not detained possibly because Schaaf had tipped them off of ICE’s plans.
Though some local leaders and immigrant rights groups criticized Schaaf, California Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, whose own political star rocketed when he allowed gay marriages in San Francisco last decade when he was the city’s mayor, said that California’s immigrant communities are “under attack” by Trump and was “grateful for leaders” like Schaaf.
“We cannot stand idly by as Trump rips apart CA families,” he said.
California’s top statewide elected officials have enthusiastically endorsed California’s “sanctuary state” status and policies, further buttressing the view on the left that Schaaf’s actions in the Trump era will only help her gain a bigger following on the left.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to officially make the state a sanctuary state. Newsom, the lieutenant governor who has also encouraged other local leaders to follow Schaaf’s lead, has vowed to keep California a sanctuary state. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently threatened to fine and even prosecute employers in the state who provide information to federal immigration officials to help them with their sweeps.
Last year, one profile of the Oakland mayor suggested that see was already eyeing statewide office and trying to line up support for a possible campaign for lieutenant governor in 2018. Schaaf was also reportedly on a short list for a potential cabinet position had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election.
Schaaf was unapologetic last week, insisting she did the “right” thing, refusing to say she was concerned that ICE said at least 800 illegal immigrant criminals were not detained because of her alert, and blasting the Trump administration’s racism.
“We have to fight against the racist myth that the Trump administration is trying to perpetuate, that immigrants are dangerous criminals. This is racist and it is false,” Schaaf, who proudly said she is part of the “resistance,” told reporters.