Police reported that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) served a federal search warrant linked to sex trafficking of minors in West Oakland, California earlier.
Law enforcement officers started the operations around 6:30 a.m. in the 700 block of 27th Street near West Street. They stayed at the scene for hours.
Johnnna Watson, the spokesperson for the Oakland police was quick to clarify in a statement that HSI is conducting a criminal investigation and not a civil immigration or deportation action. The clarification is crucial especially in light of Oakland being a sanctuary city. Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick authorized officers, however, to provide traffic control after HSI on Tuesday requested their assistance, provided that her commander and officers may not assist with any enforcement efforts. The officers’ role is limited to traffic control and neighborhood safety.
The Oakland City Council last month moved to end an agreement between the Police Department and ICE allowing some officers to be designated as customs task force officers but could still assist ICE in traffic control, community safety, and officer safety.
ICE spokesman James Schwab in San Francisco has not confirmed what type of investigation was done, or if some arrests were made. Schwab only made the effort to explain that under ICE, there are two organizations. He added: “One is Enforcement and Removal, that’s deportation. And then there’s Homeland Security Investigations. That’s our criminal investigation side.”
More details of the earlier investigation will be released tomorrow. Schwab said: “It’s an ongoing investigation. They’re going to have to go through everything.”
Activist organization By Any Means Necessary is organizing an emergency protest tonight near the scene of the warrant service, 715 27th St., despite clarifications made that the case is about suspected sex child trafficking and not deportation.