San Francisco ICE spokesman resigns, slams Trump for spreading "false information"

"I just couldn't bear the burden"

Published March 13, 2018 9:56AM (EDT)

ICE operation. (Getty/Bryan Cox)
ICE operation. (Getty/Bryan Cox)

James Schwab, a spokesman for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, resigned on Monday and blasted President Donald Trump's administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accusing them of propagating false or misleading claims about immigrants.

"I just couldn't bear the burden — continuing on as a representative of the agency and charged with upholding integrity, knowing that information was false," Schwab told CNN.

The comments stemmed from criticism by the agency of Oakland's Democratic Mayor Libby Schaaf, who warned the public about an impending sweeping ICE raid.

ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan, in a Feb. 27 press release, blasted Schaaf's decision to issue the warning as "reckless" and "politically motivated."

"The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens – making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold," he said.

Homan added, "However, 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, who has ruthlessly threatened so-called sanctuary cities, and whose Justice Department recently sued California for sanctuary policies, repeated the dog-whistle sentiment.

But Schwab expressed concern over the way in which ICE and the Trump administration had gone about their criticism and said it was wrong to blame the mayor.

"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 said. "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."

He continued, "It's a false statement because we never pick up 100 percent of our targets. And to say they're a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading."

Schwab was also told by the top echelons of ICE to "deflect to previous statements" when he vocalized his concerns, though he noted, "those previous statements did not clarify the wrong information."

"I've never been in this situation in 16 almost 17 years in government where someone asked me to deflect when we absolutely knew something was awry — when the data was not correct," Schwab explained.

Oakland's mayor went on to defend Schwab "for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie" and said that "our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard."

The Trump administration has aggressively cracked down on immigration, as brutal ICE raids have skyrocketed since he has taken office. The president has repeatedly championed the idea of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and has taken an intensely hardline approach to immigration and crime.

By Charlie May

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