ICE spokesman says he quit over ‘false’ claims by DOJ officials
A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement resigned over “false” and “misleading” comments made by top Trump administration officials over how hundreds of illegal immigrants evaded arrest during a recent sweep in Northern California, a report said.
James Schwab, a spokesman in the agency’s San Francisco office, said he was frustrated by remarks made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE Director Tom Homan that more than 800 “criminal aliens” escaped arrest after being tipped off by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Feb. 24, the night before four days of raids were to begin.
Schwab said he wanted to clarify that the number was lower and didn’t want to “deflect” media questions about it.
“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” Schwab, 38, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday. “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.”
He said he knew the numbers – widely reported in the media – were wrong because “we were not ever going to be able to capture 100 percent of the target list” of roughly 1,000 illegal immigrants in the area.
“I didn’t feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against (Schaaf’s) actions was the way to go about it,” Schwab, who was hired in 2015, told the newspaper. “We were never going to pick up that many people. To say that 100 percent are dangerous criminals on the street, or that those people weren’t picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong.”
Homan, on the third day of the sweep, was quoted saying, “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community, and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”
Sessions also repeated the 800 number and blamed the mayor for her heads up: “Those are 800 wanted aliens that are now at large in that community.”
ICE made 232 arrests during the operation.
Schaaf commended Schwab for “speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie.”
ICE officials confirmed Schwab “recently announced his departure” from the office of public affairs but refused to discuss specific details because they are confidential personnel matters.