As President Trump’s plan to relocate migrants to “sanctuary cities” generates controversy, Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, has a clear message: “Oakland welcomes all.”
Trump has specifically singled out Schaaf (D), who had criticized his proposed policy to relocate detained immigrants to sanctuary cities as an “abuse of power and public resources.”
Then the president claimed the mayor does not actually want the detained immigrants to be released into her city. In fact, Schaaf’s administration strengthened Oakland’s sanctuary policy in 2018 and had warned residents last year of a coming raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
On Saturday night, Schaaf responded by tweeting out her message.
“Democrats must change the Immigration Laws FAST,” Trump tweeted earlier. “If not, Sanctuary Cities must immediately ACT to take care of the Illegal Immigrants.”
The president characterized the undocumented migrants as “gang members, drug dealers, human traffickers, and criminals of all shapes, sizes and kinds,” a frequent trope in his immigration rhetoric that has faced widespread criticism from Democrats and immigration advocates.
The exchange between the president and Oakland’s mayor comes after another week of twists and turns in the Trump’s quest to implement his immigration agenda.
“Sanctuary cities” are jurisdictions that limit, to various degrees, how much their local law enforcement will work with federal immigration authorities to deport undocumented immigrants. Trump frequently invokes these cities in his calls for stricter immigration laws, and they serve as symbols for what he believes are failed immigration policies.
Last week, The Washington Post reported the White House had considered a plan to release migrants into sanctuary cities as a way to put pressure on Democratic politicians. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif) district was reportedly on the list of places considered. The policy was rebuffed by ICE.
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House statement said in response to the story.
But Trump later contradicted his aides and embraced the policy in tweets on Friday.
“This is an outrageous abuse of power and public resources,” she said Friday on CNN. “The idea that the administration thought in any way that it would be acceptable to use families and children, human beings, as political retribution against their enemies should infuriate every American regardless of political affiliation.”