House Hispanic Dems back Oakland mayor against ICE

House Hispanic Dems back Oakland mayor against ICE
© Moriah Ratner
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) said Tuesday that the mayor of Oakland, Calif., is right to inform her constituents of potential immigration raids.
Mayor Libby Shaaf issued a warning to her constituents Saturday, saying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids were imminent and warning residents in the country illegally to take precautions.
The raids did not materialize, but several representatives defended Shaaf's decision to share whatever information she had.
"My understanding is that they're not interfering in any way, they're just giving information," said Rep Juan VargasJuan C. VargasHouse Hispanic Dems back Oakland mayor against ICE California Hispanics, even Republicans, are primed to make history WHIP LIST: Dems boycotting Trump’s State of the Union MORE (D-Calif.). "Any information that you can legally give, you ought to give. I always believe that. Unless something's classified you ought to tell the people what's going on."
ICE and California have been at loggerheads over the Trump administration's immigration enforcement and the state's sanctuary policies. 
Those sanctuary policies — and similar policies in many municipalities — have angered federal immigration agents who say their operations serve to protect citizens and immigrants alike.
"ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately," the agency said in a statement.
"While the vast majority of cities in America do cooperate with ICE, others force ICE to assign additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidence of collateral arrests," it added.
But CHC members and immigrant rights advocates have decried ICE's methods.
"Some of the work that ICE does is horrible," Vargas said. 
"And if you talk to some of the people when they retire, they'll say the same things. Ripping children away from their mothers as their mothers are crying, deporting their dads when their dads are working hard. I mean, they'll tell you afterwards it's heartbreaking. And it is, it's ridiculous, it's heartbreaking, we shouldn't be doing that at all," he added.
And CHC members say ICE's raids, based on administrative warrants, rather than judicial warrants, violate the constitutional rights of residents whether they're citizens or not.
"If there's any government agency — state, federal or local — that is abusing that due process of anybody in this country, it is incumbent upon elected officials to make sure that the rights and due process of individuals … is preserved, and they should be aware of what rights they have," he added.
Democrats expect more communities will withhold cooperation with ICE, based on their mistrust of the administration's motivation and practices on immigration enforcement.
"I think that's going to be the reaction in many communities, whether it's Tucson, Ariz., or Oakland," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
"Given the deportation regimen that this administration is on — and is escalating it as we go — every time that something goes against them … they turn it up," he said.
Many congressional offices already share whatever information they can legally share on ICE operations with their constituents.
"When constituents get a hold of my office we give them all the public information that we have a right to give them because we represent them. Whether they're citizens or non citizens," said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.).
Gallego said his office already shares information on how to deal with government agencies with constituents. 
"We have no qualms doing that because that is our job, basically to protect people's rights," he said.
"Putting before constituents their rights and prerogatives that they have, not only for representation — I think some members have been disseminating that information for some time now, including myself," said Grijalva.
Cárdenas added that the raids are disruptive to his district's economy.
"The first thing that's happening with these raids that most Americans don't realize … they're hurting the American economy," said Cárdenas. 
"That restaurant owner who gets raided and he has to close down his business because they took three, four or five or his employees — there might be six or seven or 10 American employees that can't work because they're shutting down the restaurant," he said
The lawmakers said they'd rather reform the laws that allow the raids than just inform their constituents.
"It's disrupting the economy. We need to get comprehensive immigration reform done and once we do that then things will be better," said Cárdenas. "But the way that this administration is trying to do it, by having raids, by scaring people, by intimidating families, hardworking families, that's not good for the American citizens in that community either."
Grijalva added he doesn't have much hope for a legislative solution.
"You're seeing more and more where it's becoming, 'how do we protect people?' given the fact that we're not going to get much done legislatively with this group," said Grijalva.
CHC members say actions like Shaaf's are justified as federal immigration enforcement is intensified.
"What we've come to is the fact that the Trump administration is overstepping their boundaries and violating people's rights," said Gallego.
Grijalva said that, given the circumstances, elected officials who oppose ICE's tactics have little other recourse than to share information with their constituents.
"Us not only warning but providing information to constituents regardless is, unfortunately, the only response we have right now given the fact we have no other way to control this," he said.