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    Strengthening the Effort to Abolish ICE

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    With all of the painful and offensive things going on in the world today, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain hope. And yet, to continue to work for positive change, we need to find the motivation and inspiration. Some good news is that progressive women leaders have won major victories lately, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning the Congressional primary in New York. This brilliant, progressive young woman won her election despite being outspent by a margin of over 10 to 1. This victory helps to highlight the importance of campaigning clearly for human needs, from universal healthcare to abolishing ICE and more.

    I am happy to announce that I recently signed onto a letter calling for the abolishment of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE’S actions have had ramifications in our own backyard. ICE came into West Oakland and tore apart a family while falsely slandering them—claiming it was a criminal case—when they were filing a civil deportation action and no criminal charges. In response to this raid, for which the Oakland Police Department (OPD) provided traffic support, I introduced a resolution to the Oakland City Council, which passed unanimously, prohibiting any further use of OPD to help with ICE raids.

    In addition, I am proposing that the Oakland City Council adopt a resolution to urge Congress to abolish ICE. We’ve now experienced enough of ICE telling lies, spreading racism, ripping apart families and leaving guns loose where they can get into the hands of murderers. It’s time to abolish ICE.

    The letter, in part, reads:

    “We are outraged at the recent actions of the administration, which have separated over 2,000 families who came to this country fleeing violence and seeking asylum, only to be detained and cruelly and capriciously separated. We fundamentally believe that our country can and should be a place where people seeking freedom and opportunity can find a home.

    While this escalation of policy is particularly devastating and inhumane, it is part of a larger crisis that has been building in our communities for years because of the rampant and brutal enforcement tactics of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the lawless federal agency that has terrorized immigrants and separated families in the communities we live in and represent since its creation in 2002. As one of our newest federal agencies, ICE has shown that when given a blanket directive to round up families, it spends more time destroying communities than it does keeping communities safe. The experiment that is ICE has failed, and must be ended as soon as possible.

    As leaders and elected officials, we are committed to ensuring that our communities have the opportunity thrive—that means everything from keeping our infrastructure up to date and creating good jobs to ensuring that our kids get a quality education. Above all else, we are responsible for the safety of people in our communities. Our government should encourage civic and community participation and increase the quality of lives of our residents. The presence of ICE in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, places of worship, and homes, makes this impossible.”

    Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( and Facebook (