Former spokesman for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, James Schwab has resigned from his 16-year career with the department, claiming that he could no longer represent an agency that was knowingly circulating falsehoods perpetuated by the Trump Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Schwab admitted to CNN that he was advised to "deflect to previous statements" in regards to information surrounding Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's decision to warn the community of an upcoming ICE raid. "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 said.
The situation Schwab is referring to involved ICE's Acting Director Tom Homan's press release that stated: "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."
Following up this February 27 statement, Sessions mirrored these remarks while visiting Sacramento last week, saying, "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."
Schwab insists that Hamon and Sessions' statements are inaccurate. Although he agrees that Schaaf's actions were "misguided" and "not responsible," he takes issue with placing her with the blame of 800 dangerous people remaining at large. "It's a false statement because we never pick up 100% of our targets. And to say they're a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading," he said. It was when Schwab presented the issue to ICE leadership that they advised him to deflect to statements that he alleges "did not clarify the wrong information."
Schwab felt conflicted between upholding transparency and following the leadership of his department, but ultimately resigned over the issue. "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 said.