Monday, 23 April, 2018

ICE spokesperson quits over 'false public statements' from Trump administration

San Diego Arrests Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 13 March, 2018, 20:48

James Schwab told the San Francisco Chronicle late Monday that administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump, grossly exaggerated the number of undocumented immigrants who avoided arrest after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tipped off the public days before the raid began on February 25.

The White House did authorize Thomas Homan, deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to speak on the record, and he said he's seen police and sheriff's departments pull out of anti-drug and anti-smuggling task forces because of the sanctuary laws.

"How dare she say we are terrorizing communities?" "I think it's my responsibility as a person in power and privilege to share the information I have access to, to make sure people know what their rights are".

"I asked them to change the information", he told The Chronicle, referring to the 864 people to whom the statement alluded.

"To say that 100 percent are unsafe criminals on the street, or that those people weren't picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong", he told the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday (March 12).

Schwab has now quit his job as a Homeland Security spokesman in San Francisco - but that shouldn't be taken to mean that he agrees with what Schaaf did. "To say that 100% are unsafe criminals on the street, or that those people weren't picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong".

Schwab joins other notable federal government workers who publicly resigned over disagreements with the Trump administration on immigration.

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Schwab, however, told the Chronicle that those statements were falsehoods, and led to his resignation.

Sessions and the ICE department accused the mayor of allowing 800 unsafe illegal immigrants to roam the city, a number Schwab said was "misleading". Then Trump characterized Schaaf's action as "a disgrace," and said ICE was going to arrest "close to 1,000 people", but only got "a fraction" because of her warning.

"I've never been in this situation in 16 nearly 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. He depicts immigrants as criminals - and those who defend them as criminals. In fact, he told Oakland Fox affiliate KTVU that the operation was not even originally expected to arrest 232 suspected undocumented immigrants, making it more successful than planned. According to ICE, of the 232 people picked up, 115 had felonies or misdemeanors. According to the Washington Post, Schwab was previously a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Reserve Element, a public affairs office for the NASA Ames Research Center, and a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Defense, before joining ICE in 2015.

"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, adding that in his 16 years of experience in government he had never been asked to deflect when he knew something was inaccurate.

California past year passed three sanctuary laws that severely limit local law enforcement's ability to communicate with federal authorities and hold illegal immigrants so ICE can pick them up and potentially proceed with deportation. "Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard".

"ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at work sites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community", the agency said. "I felt like we weren't doing that. It was my first time being asked to do that".

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