Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) proposed legislation that would hold officials in sanctuary cities and states accountable for tipping-off illegal immigrants about Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations.
The measure, dubbed “Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018” for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf who warned illegal immigrants about a federal sweep in the Bay Area in February, was introduced Monday.
“I want lawless, sanctuary city politicians to hear this message clearly: If you obstruct ICE, you are going to end up in the cooler,” King said in a statement.
If passed, the law would ban officials from "purposeful broadcast" of "information relating to any imminent action by a federal law enforcement officer or agent without regard to the manner in which the broadcaster became aware of the imminent action," according to the proposal.
ICE Director Thomas Homan said Schaaf's actions might have prevented up to 800 illegal immigrants from being arrested during the four-day enforcement operation.
“Sanctuary politicians are placing the lives of citizens and law enforcement officers in jeopardy by giving illegal aliens warnings about impending ICE actions in local jurisdictions,” King said. “This is obstruction of justice, and Americans do not have to put up with it.
Violators could find themselves in prison for up to five years.
Aren't there already laws about obstructing justice?
There's some legal debate "to whether the existing federal code effectively criminalizes the obstructionist behavior in which these individuals willfully and selfishly engage," King said, adding that his act would remove all doubt.
What did Schaaf say about the legislation?
Schaaf told CNN's Erin Burnett on Monday that "it's not possible" for this type of legislation to be legal.
"I'm not going to let the bullies in Washington, D.C., deter me from doing what I know is right for my community. In Oakland, we're very clear about what our values are. We value our immigrant communities. We value diversity. And we will not allow anyone to intimidate us. We will not apologize for those values," Schaaf said.
The mayor claims she knows more about sanctuary laws than King and maintained she'd committed no wrongdoing.
“Sanctuary city policies are legal policies,” Schaaf said. “Part of the beauty of American democracy is that there is a balance between local, state and federal power. I know a lot more about what makes my community safe than a congressman from Iowa.”
Last week, President Donald Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the Oakland mayor for obstructing justice, Fox News reported.
“You talk about an obstruction of justice, I would recommend that you look into obstruction of justice for the mayor of Oakland California, Jeff,” Trump said while meeting with California Republican lawmakers.
Schaaf fired back at the president in a piece published in the Washington Post.
"Mr. President, I am not obstructing justice. I am seeking it," she wrote. "The president takes issue with a tweet I posted in February in which I notified residents of an impending raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Bay Area, including Oakland. I wanted to make sure that people were prepared, not panicked, and that they understood their legal rights."