James Schwab, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s San Francisco division, has resigned over the organization's handling of a recent immigration raid in Northern California, The Washington Post reports, which he says involved the spread of misinformation.
Schwab told the San Francisco Chronicle that administration officials, including Acting Director Tom Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are responsible for spreading "misleading facts" following last month's immigration raid in Northern California, which was preceded by a public warning issued by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Days later, the agency issued a press release calling Schaaf’s decision "irresponsible," and suggesting that "864 criminal aliens and public safety threats" were able to elude capture thanks to her actions.
"Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community–800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue with more difficulty in more dangerous situations, all because of one mayor's irresponsible action," Sessions said during a speech in Sacramento last week.
A day later, President Trump echoed those statements, claiming that ICE had been prepared to arrest "close to 1,000 people" and calling Schaaf's decision "a disgrace."
On Monday, Schwab came forward to announce that he had resigned due to the Trump administration's mishandling of the raid's aftermath. According to Schwab, the initial press release regarding the raid contained "wrong information," and he says that when he asked for the information to be corrected, he was asked to deflect questions on the topic.
"I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," Schwab explained. "I asked them to change the information. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn't agree with that. Then I took some time, and I quit."
Schwab criticized the agency for blaming Schaaf and categorized their statements as misleading "because we were not ever going to be able to capture 100 percent of the target list."
"Director Homan and the Attorney General said there were 800 people at large and free to roam because of the actions of the Oakland mayor," Schwab told CNN. "Personally, I think her actions were misguided and not responsible. I think she could have had other options. But to blame her for 800 dangerous people out there is just false."
Why was it false? "Because we never pick up 100% of our targets," he continued. "And to say they're a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading."
ICE officials confirmed Schwab's resignation and, on Tuesday, stood by their earlier statements.
"Even one criminal alien on the street can put public safety at risk and, as Director Homan stated, while we can't put a number on how many targets avoided arrest due to the mayor's warning, it clearly had an impact," ICE spokeswoman Liz Johnson said.
"While we disagree with Mr. Schwab on this issue, we appreciate his service and wish him well," she continued.
Schaaf, who continues to stand by her decision, applauded Schwab for taking action.
"I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie," she said. "Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard."
ICE was created only 15 years ago, when the former INS was transferred to different entities: That is to say, it wasn’t always this way.
[Photo: Getty Images]