Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
addressing the public safety committee
on Tuesday night.

An Oakland City Council committee backed an ordinance Tuesday night that revokes authority previously given to the city administrator for entering agreements with the U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE).

“It sends a strong message and brings peace of mind to members of our community,” said Councilmember Abel Guillen, who also sits on the city council’s public safety committee.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan introduced the ordinance and said it is the stated intention of the Trump administration and ICE to target non-criminals in various immigrant communities. “Those in the federal government who say they speak for morality and perhaps missed in their bible classes the verse, “Remember, you yourselves were once strangers in the land of Egypt.”

In May 2016, the City Council approved a memorandum of understanding with ICE to allow some Oakland police officers to be designated as customs task force agents. Later, after Oakland’s then-acting police chief asked for reimbursements from ICE for overtime, the city’s privacy commission began to scrutinized the agreement.

However, the Oakland Privacy Commission found the MOU was never executed between ICE and OPD since its signing. The commission recommended, therefore, that it is not necessary, but also declared the MOU violated Oakland’s sanctuary city status.

Brian Hofer, the chair of the Oakland Privacy Commission says the MOU with ICE has a “chilling effect” on the Latino community, and data from other regions show crimes are not being reported due to fear their information will passed on to ICE.

An OPD representative told the committee that they believe the MOU agrees with sanctuary city. In addition, the agreement does not give authority to agents to enforce immigration laws.