Oakland City Council ends city's agreement with federal immigration officials

OAKLAND (BCN) The Oakland City Council has voted unanimously to end the city's agreement with federal immigration officials that had allowed Oakland police officers to take part in task forces headed by federal officials.

City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who wrote the resolution that the council approved on Tuesday night, said there was "overwhelming community support" for it, including from representatives of the Oakland Privacy
Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The council's vote terminates an agreement that the city entered last year with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that allowed some Oakland officers to be designated as customs task force officers.

That classification allows local police agencies to work with federal immigration officials on cases of human trafficking, narcotics and other cross-border crimes.

Kaplan said in a statement, "Under the Trump Administration, we have seen the increased use of ICE to target non-criminals, including arresting people dropping their kids off to school."

"Given that ICE officials have stated their intention to continue to target non-criminals, many in our community feel unsafe coming forward to Oakland police knowing that they could be in danger of deportation even if
they have not committed a crime," Kaplan said.

"In furtherance of Oakland's sanctuary city status, and encouraging cooperation with local law enforcement, I am thrilled that the council passed my resolution to rescind this agreement with ICE," she said.

The resolution says, "The presence of ICE in Oakland is causing trauma in the community and causing a chilling effect that weakens cooperation with local law enforcement."

In a related action, the City Council on Tuesday night also unanimously approved an ordinance authored by Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney that increases oversight and public engagement in surveillance-related agreements between the city and federal agencies such as
the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Sameena Usman, the government relations coordinator for CAIR's San Francisco Bay Area chapter, said in a statement, "This ordinance sends a strong message that we will protect residents' civil rights regardless of
their faith, background, or country of origin."

Christina Sinha, the national security and civil rights program manager and staff attorney for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, said, "This critically needed and timely law will protect many
marginalized Oaklanders, give the city more control of its officers and resources and increase public safety by strengthening police-community relations."

Brian Hofer, the chair of the Oakland Privacy Commission, said, "The City Council made it clear that Oakland is truly a place of refuge and all are welcome here."