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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf On Trump And 'Sanctuary Cities'

Apr 13, 2019
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Could detained migrants be moved into places that call themselves sanctuary cities? President Trump says he's strongly considering the idea, placing apprehended migrants in cities that have declared themselves sanctuaries. That is cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration officials. President Trump said in a tweet, the radical left always seems to have an open borders, open arms policy, so this should make them very happy. Libby Schaaf is the mayor of Oakland, Calif., a sanctuary city. Mayor Schaaf, thanks so much for being with us.

LIBBY SCHAAF: Oh, thanks for having me.

SIMON: Do you welcome this chance for Oakland to welcome migrants?

SCHAAF: Listen. Oakland is a city that prides itself on diversity and inclusion. We are proud of the immigrant community that we have right now. And it's our job to not build walls but build bridges and welcome all people and celebrate the richness that diverse cultures bring to our city. We also know that immigrants actually make a safer city, despite the lies and the divisive rhetoric that this president continues to drive to separate the American people. We know that data proves that undocumented or documented immigrants commit far fewer crimes. So not only is our community richer and more loving. But it also is safer because we are a sanctuary city and a diverse city.

SIMON: But let me hone this down to the point that's at issue now. If sometime, let's say, in the middle of next week, a number of buses arrive in Oakland with 5,000 migrants, do you say, welcome to Oakland?

SCHAAF: I always say, welcome to Oakland. But this is much less about immigration or sanctuary. This is about an outrageous abuse of power. The idea that you could use human beings, families as instruments of political payback to use public resources to exact retribution on your political enemies. This is not America. It is not democratic. And this is what should outrage all Americans, regardless of their stance on immigration or sanctuary cities.

SIMON: I've gotten two very complete answers from you to essentially the question, would you welcome more migrants? I haven't heard a yes.

SCHAAF: I said yes. Oakland welcomes all people.

SIMON: So specifically in this case, if more migrants show up, that's fine with you?

SCHAAF: My job as a mayor is to welcome people. I don't build walls. It's our job to welcome everyone into our city, ensure their safety, ensure that their families can thrive. And that is my job no matter where those people came from or how they got there.

SIMON: Do you think the president is testing the sincerity of liberal Democrats?

SCHAAF: I think the president is trying to whip up his base. He's trying to continue to drive lies, racist lies about immigrants. And he's trying to distract from the fact that his cutting of aid to countries that now have conditions that force families to flee and seek political asylum in our country - the fact that he's not addressing some of the pressing problems that are within America and tries to distract the public with this hate-mongering - that is the biggest problem.

SIMON: Would, let's say, a thousand more immigrants greatly tax the resources of Oakland?

SCHAAF: Oakland is growing very quickly. And we welcome families. We welcome people that seek to make better lives for their families, that are willing to work hard and become wonderful members of our community.

SIMON: Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, thanks so much for being with us.

SCHAAF: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.