A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Francisco resigned over the Trump administration’s handling of a recent immigrant raid in the Bay Area.
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 Feb. 25.
“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” Schwab said. “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 added that even if there had been no prior warning about the raid, “we were not ever going to be able to capture 100 percent of the target list.”
ICE said 232 people were arrested in the sweep, but claimed the number could have been higher.
“Efforts by local politicians have shielded removable criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and created another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect,” the agency said in a statement.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan claimed that 864 “criminal aliens” escaped arrest, and Trump railed that close to 1,000 people would have been swept up, calling Schaaf’s warning “a disgrace.” Sessions accused the Oakland mayor of promoting “a radical open-borders agenda.”
Schwab disputed the claims and told CNN he could no longer “bear the burden ― continuing on as a representative of the agency and charged with upholding integrity, knowing that information was false.”
Schaaf applauded Schwab’s decision.
“Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard,” the mayor said in a statement.
Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) characterized the move as “basically going to war against the state of California.”
The timing is uncanny, as Trump begins his first visit as president to California on Tuesday to check out prototypes for a border wall and attend a Republican fundraiser.