ICE used Oakland Airport to deport thousands of detained immigrants, report says

The City of Oakland has continuously strengthened its sanctuary city policies over the past three years. 

Last year, Mayor Libby Schaaf made national headline when issued a public warning about upcoming ICE raids. 

But a report by Bay Area News Group reveals a different story happening at the Oakland International Airport. 

According to the report, from 2010 to 2018, ICE chartered nearly 2,000 flights out of the airport and flew nearly 43,000 detained people in and out of Oakland. 

Hamid Yazdan Panah, an immigration attorney with the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice said, "Individuals who are picked up by ICE are often shipped out of this country in a matter of hours and they don't have the ability to appear before a judge in many instances, so it's really important that we make sure there is transparency with respect to the process."

Local immigration advocates say it appears to be a clear violation of Oakland's sanctuary city policy. 

"I think this speaks to a larger issue of what level of cooperation our cities, counties, and governments are going to have with policies that essentially violate human rights," Panah said. "Individuals are being moved out of the country rapidly and are being denied the opportunities to speak with attorneys or access to counsel are having their human rights and due process rights violated."

The Port of Oakland oversees the airport. Private companies charted the flights which lease the runways from the port. 

A spokesperson for the mayor's office responded to KTVU's request for comment by email which read, "The mayor's office is looking into this matter as this issue is of great interest to the Mayor and our Oakland values. We are currently looking into this activity to understand it and address it."

The Bay Area News Group reports that almost 27,000 people were deported and another 16,000 were transferred to holding facilities by way of the Oakland International Airport. 

KTVU reached out to ICE to find out how the department coordinated the flights.

In an email response from the agency, "ICE made an internal operational decision to discontinue the use of charter flights out of Oakland in October of 2018. ICE coordinates flight operations on a case by case basis. The agency does not share specific logistic details pertaining to detainee transfers."