On Monday, James Schwab, the now-former spokesperson for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement San Francisco, California division, resigned from the agency citing the overwhelming “burden” of being asked to lie for the Donald Trump administration.
“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,” he told CNN on Monday.
Schwab specifically called out Acting Director Tom Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for being the primary purveyors of false and misleading information concerning Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to warn the public of a future ICE raid.
On Feb. 27, ICE issued a press release about its operations in Northern California. Homan is on record saying that “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 made a similar remark during his visit to Sacramento last week.
“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 had said.
Schwab said that he could not let their misrepresentation of the truth stand.
“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,” he 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.”
“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.”
According to Schwab, when he raised his concerns with ICE leadership, he was instructed to “deflect to previous statements. Even though 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” he said.
Oakland’s mayor gave high praise to the former ICE official for putting his integrity over his career:
“I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie. Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard.”
While Schwab admits to being a registered Democrat, he told CNN that he’s served for years as a professional federal servant regardless of which party was in power.
So far ICE in Washington D.C. and the Justice Department has yet to respond to CNN’s request for comment.
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