The San Francisco spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has reportedly resigned from his role.
James Schwab, who was hired in 2015, didn’t want to compromise on his morals to safeguard the agency’s interests.
The 38-year-old credited his decision to the frustration that resulted from distorted information the Trump Administration and ICE were spreading in regard to recent immigration sweeps in Northern California.
"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.
He also told The SF Chronicle he was “frustrated” with the statements the officials were making – including Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He believes the number of undocumented immigrants who have evaded capture due to Oakland Mayor Libby Schwab’s public warning before the immigration raids began, were overstated by the agency.
“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,” acting ICE Director Thomas Homan stated in the agency’s press release about the operation.
President Donald Trump didn’t stay behind in fabricating the figures as he said “close to 1,000” would have gotten arrested if the mayor hadn’t issued her warning.
Schwab thought the figure stated was too high and reportedly wanted the agency to take it back. He also didn’t want to avoid media questions on the matter.
“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts. 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 former spokesperson also expressed his distaste for the characterization that the agency did.
"Director Homan and the Attorney General said there were 800 people at large and free to roam because of the actions of the Oakland Mayor. 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," he continued. "It's a false statement because we never pick up 100% of our targets. And to say they're a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading."
The Oakland mayor has applauded the former spokesperson’s decision.
"I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie. Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard," the mayor said.
ICE spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., Jennifer Elzea, was asked about the controversial figures to which she didn’t reply directly, but suggested 800 immigrants had not evaded arrest because of the mayor’s warning.
“It’s the job of a public affairs officer to offer transparency for the agency you work for. I felt like we weren’t doing that. I’ve never been in a situation when I’ve been asked to ignore the facts because it was more convenient. It was my first time being asked to do that,” said Schwab, whose resignation was confirmed by the officials of the agency.