Immigration activists told Port of Oakland commissioners Thursday afternoon that they're upset about the recent revelation that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials used Oakland's airport to deport thousands of immigrants between 2010 and 2018.
Divya Sundar of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy said, "We're deeply disappointed that ICE has flown immigrants out of the Oakland International Airport," which is overseen by the Port.
Sundar said, "The flights are completely counter to Oakland's sanctuary city policies."
Sundar said the flights are "unconscionable" and "are undermining our community."
Amelia Cass of Indivisible said, "It's really upsetting that this was happening and none of us knew about it."
Lourdes Martinez, political director for Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a social justice group that supports Latino immigrants, told the commissioners that they should use their power and influence to make sure that immigrants are never again deported from the Oakland airport.
The Bay Area News Group reported earlier this week that ICE contracted with a charter air company to use the Oakland International Airport to deport about 27,000 people between 2010 and 2018.
The news organization said another 16,000 people were transferred to holding facilities by way of the airport.
ICE has said that it stopped chartering flights out of Oakland last October.
Port of Oakland acting executive director Danny Wan told commissioners, "The Port did not know that these flights were taking place."
He said, "The flights were a surprise to me personally and professionally."
Wan said Port executives "want to look into how and why the flights could be taking place."
Wan said the Port didn't assist in the deportations and "there was no active aiding of these deportations."
He told the people who spoke at the meeting the Port of Oakland "absolutely understands" their concerns and shares them.
"We have taken this issue very seriously," Wan said.
Andreas Cluver, the Port Commission's first vice president, said the commission couldn't discuss the issue at Thursday's meeting because it wasn't on the agenda.
But he said, "If necessary we will put this on the agenda for a future meeting when we can have a full discussion on this."
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told reporters at a news conference in her office on Tuesday, "I was very shocked that ICE was using the Oakland airport to deport people. That came as quite a surprise."
Schaaf said, "I'm pleased that Port of Oakland officials were not happy to learn about this and I believe they have been in compliance" with the city's sanctuary policies.
Schaaf said, "Port commissioners are looking to strengthen their policies" to prevent the use of the airport to deport people in the future.