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Republican congressman introduces ‘Libby Schaaf Act’ to criminalize immigration raid warnings

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has a new bill in Congress named after her — but it’s not one she’s likely to support.
Rep. Steve King, a firebrand conservative Republican from Iowa, announced what he’s calling the “Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018” on Monday, in an attempt to make it illegal for public officials to warn of upcoming immigration sweeps.
Under King’s bill , state and local government officials who purposefully “broadcast” information relating to “any imminent action by a federal law enforcement officer or agent” would be guilty of obstruction of justice and could face up to five years in prison, as well as a fine.
It’s the latest move by national Republicans — including President Donald Trump — to target the Oakland mayor for her decision in February to issue a public warning about immigration raids in the Bay Area.
Schaaf said she received information about the upcoming raids through “credible sources” and felt an ethical obligation to share it with her constituents. Then-head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan claimed that Schaaf’s tip-off led to 800 undocumented immigrants with criminal records avoiding capture — although an ICE spokesman resigned over that claim , calling it “misleading.”
While King’s bill doesn’t specifically target immigration enforcement, the congressman said in a statement that he saw it as an effort to fight back against officials supporting sanctuary policies.
“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 in a statement. “I want lawless, sanctuary city politicians to hear this message clearly: If you obstruct ICE, you are going to end up in the cooler.”
The bill comes on the heels of President Trump’s repeated broadsides against Schaaf. Last week, at a White House meeting with anti-sanctuary officials from California, Trump told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that “I would recommend that you look at obstruction of justice” charges against the Oakland mayor. The Department of Justice previously said it is reviewing Schaaf’s actions.
Schaaf fired back in a Washington Post op-ed last week, saying she was “not obstructing justice. I am seeking it.” Her office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday about King’s bill.
Lucas Guttentag, a Stanford University law professor, said the bill would likely face constitutional challenges. “It would raise a host of constitutional questions in addition to just being bad policy,” Guttentag said. “Targeting speech raises First Amendment issues, and targeting state and local officials raises Tenth Amendment issues… I can’t imagine what she said comes even close to a claim that would constitute obstruction.”
Even if it did pass constitutional muster, the law would not apply retroactively to Schaaf’s warning.
The sanctuary kerfuffle has  elevated Schaaf’s national profile as she runs for re-election to a second term this year.

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