Who Is Libby Schaaf, the Oakland Mayor Who Warned of Immigration Raids?

SAN FRANCISCO — Libby Schaaf, the Democratic mayor of Oakland since 2015, stepped into the middle of the national debate on immigration on Saturday when she warned of imminent raids by federal immigration agents in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The next day the raids began, and the deputy director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said Ms. Schaaf’s warning had compromised the safety of agents and allowed targets of the raid to flee.

In a city that for decades had one of California’s highest rates of violent crime, the number of burglaries, murders and shootings have sharply declined during Ms. Schaaf’s three years as mayor. Yet her tenure has made national headlines for scandal, tragedy and the disappointment of an iconic sports team announcing its plans to move.

Here’s a look at Ms. Schaaf’s background and time as mayor.

A child of Oakland and an advocate for its diversity.

Ms. Schaaf, 52, is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal in a city where “Republican” is a dirty word.

“Oakland has always been a place for social justice movements,” Ms. Schaaf said in an interview. “We’re a city that is fiercely proud of our diversity, full of artists and unique creative energy, but with a gritty authenticity.”

Born in Oakland to a former flight attendant and traveling shoe salesman, Ms. Schaaf grew up in the Oakland Hills, a residential area more affluent and geographically distinct from the downtown parts of Oakland that suffered the crack epidemic and a flight of major businesses to other parts of the Bay Area. Ms. Schaaf — whose mother was deeply involved in civic projects, including running a volunteer program at a children’s hospital — has lived in the city most of her life, though she went to college in Florida and law school in Los Angeles.

Ms. Schaaf worked as a lawyer for two years at a prominent law firm in Oakland before turning to politics. She served several years as an aide to other politicians, including Gov. Jerry Brown when he was mayor of Oakland, and was elected to the City Council in 2010. Four years later she was elected mayor.

By Thomas Fuller for THE NEW YORK TIMES
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