Local ICE spokesman resigns over Jeff Sessions comments

By Sara Shayanian  |  Updated March 13, 2018 at 10:31 AM
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March 13 (UPI) -- A spokesman for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement resigned, citing what he said were misleading statements by Trump administration officials.

Specifically, James Schwab, 38, said he left his position because of claims from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Acting ICE Director Tom Homan that 800 undocumented immigrants escaped arrest last month due to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's public warning of potential ICE raids.

"I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," Schwab 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."

Schwab said the number of immigrants that Sessions and other officials claimed to have evaded arrest was misleading because "because we were not ever going to be able to capture 100 percent of the target list."

The former ICE spokesman added he didn't want to "fabricate" the truth to defend the agency against Schaaf's actions -- noting he was told to "deflect" to previous statements even if those statements did not clarify the wrong information.

"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.

ICE authorities arrested more than 150 people in Northern California last month, two days after Schaaf warned residents of the impending raids, citing "credible sources."

The agency called Schaaf's decision "reckless" and claimed that publicizing the raids increased the risk for officers and "alerted criminal aliens."

"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," Schwab told CNN. "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."

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