A Democratic mayor’s warning to illegal immigrants of an incoming ICE raid in northern California may have led to a number of illegal immigrants with violent and sex-related convictions evading capture and deportation.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted out an impending warning of the four-day raid last week, alerting targeted individuals to the imminent arrests, and infuriating Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who say that many more could have been caught if they hadn't been warned.
The raid led to the arrest of 232 illegal immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area, 180 of which ICE said “were either convicted criminals, had been issued a final order of removal and failed to depart the United States, or had been previously removed” from the country and had come back illegally.
The arrests included 115 who "had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges and assault, or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors."
But acting ICE Director Tom Homan said on "Fox & Friends" that Schaaf’s warning meant there are roughly 800 illegal immigrants they were unable to locate.
"What she did is no better than a gang lookout yelling 'police' when a police cruiser comes in the neighborhood, except she did it to an entire community. This is beyond the pale," he said.
"This is a whole new low, to intentionally warn criminals that law enforcement is coming," he added.
A spokesperson for ICE gave Fox News examples of some of the unsavory characters who evaded officals during the raid.
One Mexican citizen had convictions for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), and had been deported in 2003.
Another who evaded capture had a conviction for sodomizing a drugged victim in 2012, as well as a DUI from this year -- that Mexican citizen had also been previously deported in 2013.
Another illegal immigrant from Mexico, previously deported in 2014 for a conviction for armed robbery, also evaded capture.
While the individuals dodged authorities, it is also not clear if there was a definitive link between Schaaf’s statement and their disappearance.
An official briefed on the plans at the Department of Homeland Security told The New York Times that ICE agents typically find only about 30 percent of their targets during a sweep, meaning that many of the 800 who evaded capture may not have been caught either way.
Schaaf came under intense national pressure, including from the White House, for her actions. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the DOJ was conducting a review. But Schaaf stood by what she did.
"I did what I believe was right for my community as well as to protect public safety," Schaaf said Friday, according to NBC Bay Area. "People should be able to live without fear or panic and know their rights and responsibilities as well as their recourses."
Among those caught in the raid were immigrants with a lengthy list of convictions, including aggravated assault, murder, hit-run, lewd acts with a minor, burglary, cruelty toward a child, indecent exposure, domestic violence, drug trafficking, battery, sex offenses and false imprisonment.
In a press release, ICE pointed to the case of Armando Nunez-Salgado, a Mexican gang member who had been deported four times and had convictions including assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, hit-and-run causing injury and evasion of a police officer.
Another deportee was a Mexican gang member with convictions for, among other things, possession of a dangerous weapon, spousal abuse, burglary and battery on a police officer.
In that statement, ICE also said that recent so-called "sanctuary city" legislation has hurt the agency’s ability to enforce immigration laws.
“Recent legislation has negatively impacted ICE operations in California by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state by prohibiting local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees,” the statement said.
“Ultimately, efforts by local politicians have shielded removable criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and created another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect,” it said.