Preface: This is not the work or intellect of Bottomlesscoffee007, this is a post, donated by one of my brothers.
ICE, Oakland, and Activism
This week, the mayor or Oakland, California, Libby Schaaf, took the spotlight in the nation’s ongoing immigration debate.
On Saturday, February 24, Mayor Schaaf issued a warning to the public that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be operating in the Oakland area the following day. On Sunday, Mayor Schaaf held a press conference justifying her public warning regarding the ICE activities. The ICE raids, which federal law enforcement expected to apprehend approximately 1000 criminals unlawfully present in the U.S., resulted in only 150 apprehensions. This isn’t Oakland’s first rebuke of federal immigration law. On January 2, 2018, the Oakland City Council unanimously voted to bar all branches of the city government from cooperating with ICE.
ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan criticized Mayor Schaaf’s actions as “reckless and irresponsible.” Mayor Schaaf, however, insisted her public warning was motivated by her concern for Bay Area residents’ legal rights. Mayor Schaaf also stated that her actions were based upon her values of “social justice” and the consideration of Oakland’s culture of activism.
The first sentence of this blog characterized this event as an immigration debate. The moment Mayor Schaaf issued a public warning, the debate ended and action began.The mayor’s actions, which at the very least frustrated the intentions of ICE, and at most, directly obstructed local ICE operations, go well beyond the margins of speech. While state and local governments are free to abstain from cooperating with federal law enforcement, they are not free to impede such enforcement.
This brings me to to a more philosophical point concerning the current condition of the United States: When state and local governments are motivated by social justice and activism rather than constitutional law and legal precedent, do we remain a constitutional republic? Do we govern ourselves according to the cold rationality of law, or the passion and emotion of activism?
There is historical precedent to help us understand the events unfolding in Oakland and elsewhere throughout the U.S. There was once a time in the U.S., similar to now, when Democrat party supermajorities at the state level were passionately motivated by ideals of ethnicity, culture, citizenship, and justice. These ideas were so forcefully defended, that entire state and local governments directly opposed federal law and governance. In order to protect these strongly held values, 11 states seceded from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America in 1861, where local values were upheld and centralized authority limited. Then came the U.S Civil War. We all know how the rest unfolds–I hope.
Mayor Schaaf is playing with fire; numerous U.S. cities and states are stoking that fire; and the necessary philosophical and historical context has failed to be applied to such instances that many in the government and media perceive simply to be a political game.
Eight-hundred or so at-large, unlawfully present immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area will not unravel the fundamental structure of our nation. Similarly, a single sneeze will not kill an ill patient afflicted with a terminal disease.
So make your choice: Activism or law? Order or chaos? Peace or war?