While President Donald Trump was telling Attorney General Jeff Sessions to charge Oakland, California, Mayor Libby Schaaf with obstruction of justice, she was at Harvard University discussing her plan to give every Oakland child the chance to attend college.
This story highlights the difference between people like Trump and Sessions who want to destroy people’s’ lives, and those like Schaaf, who want to make them better.
According to Schaaf, she sought public office in order to address what she calls the “achievement gap” in her city — the wide discrepancies in the number of black and Hispanic children who attend college compared to white children.
In a Washington Post editorial Schaaf said:
“I was proud to show how our community has increased the number of college-enrolled, African American students by 14 percent and Latino students by 11 percent in just one year. We’re determined to close the achievement gap one student, one family and one community at a time.”
“We call our plan the Oakland Promise. It exemplifies America’s promise. Because Oakland doesn’t obstruct justice, we seek it.”
She also defended her right as mayor to intervene in the federal government’s immigration arrests in her city and said she felt that it was her duty to protect Oakland residents and let them know in advance of an impending February immigration raid.
“Mr. President, I am not obstructing justice. I am seeking it,” she wrote, adding that:
“As mayor, it’s my duty to protect my residents — especially when our most vulnerable are unjustly attacked. As a leader, it’s my duty to call out this administration’s anti-immigrant fearmongering for what it is: a racist lie. It’s well documented that immigrants — even undocumented immigrants — commit fewer crimes than American-born citizens. And diverse, sanctuary cities such as Oakland are seeing dramatic decreases in crime.”
In February, officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency had planned a raid targeting 1,000 undocumented immigrants living in the Oakland area, and Schaaf sent a tweet warning of this impending raid. According to irate federal officials, Schaaf’s tweet prevented the arrests of nearly 800 people.
“I wanted to make sure that people were prepared, not panicked, and that they understood their legal rights,” she said, adding “I did not share information that would put law enforcement officials at risk.”
Since then both President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have attacked Schaaf for her actions multiple times including on Wednesday when Trump told Sessions during a meeting that he should consider prosecuting the mayor for obstruction of justice.
Sessions also singled out Schaaf for criticism in March when he announced his planned lawsuit against California for its “sanctuary state” policies. The Attorney General questioned why the mayor would “needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote a radical open borders agenda.”
Schaaf, however, said that Trump and Sessions were using her to promote their radical anti-immigrant agenda.
“It was not my intention to get caught up in a national debate, but I do believe that I am speaking for the residents of my city,” Schaaf said at the time. “The agenda of this administration is petty political vindictiveness.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.