James Schwab, the San Francisco spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, resigned after the agency’s recent Northern California sweep. He told the San Francisco Chronicle he couldn’t continue to do his job after Trump administration officials made false public statements about a key aspect of the operation. Schwab said he was frustrated by repeated statements by officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that 800 undocumented immigrants escaped arrest because of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s Feb. 24 warning to the public about the four-day operation, which she issued the night before federal officers began staking out homes and knocking on doors.
Schwab wanted the agency to correct the number, which he understood to be far lower. “I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” said Schwab. He said the statements about immigrants evading arrest, which were widely quoted in media outlets, were misleading “because we were not ever going to be able to capture 100 percent of the target list” of some 1,000 undocumented immigrants in Northern California. “I didn’t feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against (Schaaf’s) actions was the way to go about it,” he said. “We were never going to pick up that many people. 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.” ICE’s Thomas Homan has said 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.” The ICE operation, called Keep Safe, began Feb. 25 and was intended to send a message to California leaders that they could not shield immigrants from federal law despite state and local sanctuary policies.