James Schwab has stepped down as spokesman for the San Francisco division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), saying Monday he could no longer defend or "deflect" from "false" and "misleading" statements by top U.S. officials, notably Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE acting Director Thomas Homan. "I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "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."
Specifically, Schwab was talking about Homan's assertion, repeated by Sessions and President Trump, that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's (D) warning about an ICE raid had left "864 criminal aliens and public safety threats" at large. ICE launched an immigration sweep on Feb. 25, and Schaaf had announced the raid the night before, infuriating the Trump administration. ICE picked up 232 suspected undocumented immigrants, but said it had targeted 1,000, blaming Schaaf for the difference.
"Personally I think her actions were misguided and not responsible," Schwab told CNN. "But to blame her for 800 dangerous people out there is just false." ICE was "never going to pick up that many people," he told the Chronicle, and "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." Schwab said he had "never been in this situation in 16 almost 17 years in government," and "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."
An ICE spokesman in Washington, Jennifer Elzea, referred the Chronicle to Homan's statement blaming Schaaf for the "864 criminal aliens and public safety threats" not picked up in the dragnet.