OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Immigration advocacy groups are calling on the Port of Oakland to be transparent about deportation flights out of the Oakland International Airport.
“The deportation has hit us hard because that's part of our values,” said Ted Lam with Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee.
Lam said they're outraged over the findings of a University of Washington report that claims 27,000 people were deported through a private charter out of Oakland International Airport between 2010 and 2018.
“Over 6,000 of them may have had deferred proceedings that should have kept them here a little longer,” said Lam.
Paul Prince, ICE Spokesperson for San Francisco and Northern California released this statement to KTVU: “Foremost, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) enforces our nation’s immigration law by removing aliens from the U.S. who are subject to a final order of removal or have been granted voluntary departure.”
“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. However, the agency does not share specific logistic details pertaining to detainee transfers.”
Oakland's current sanctuary status left people questioning whether these deportation flights may have violated the city's sanctuary policy.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office oversees security at the airport, but in a statement released to KTVU a spokesperson says “ACSO does not assist and is not involved with immigration flights or operations at Oakland Airport. We play no role in these operations and strictly follow the CA Values Act.”
At a Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, Indivisible East Bay spoke out, calling on the port to open an investigation into how the airport handled past deportation flights, including any rights violations that may or may not have occurred.
“We want some transparency on what had happened, what they knew happened from 2010-2018 and what they're going to do to try to stop it moving forward,” said Lam.
The Port's acting director addressed the community's concern.
“Our investigation does reinforce that the employees have not assisted or cooperated with any immigration investigation, detention or arrest procedures in connection with the deportations,” said Acting director, Danny Wan.
The Port maintains it was unaware that these deportations were occurring. Through an investigation, the Port has confirmed these flights were taking place with the use of a fixed base operator.
The Port said in the coming weeks, they are committed to developing recommendations and a definitive response to the events that occurred.