ICE Spokesperson Resigns From San Francisco Office In Protest Of Agency's Allegedly 'Misleading Facts'

"I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn’t agree with that."

A spokesperson for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement resigned last week, telling reporters on Monday that he could no longer bear the burden of spreading false information. James Schwab, who has worked in government for 16 years, told CNN he had never been in a situation like this before. His resignation came after attorney general Jeff Sessions claimed Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's public warning about an ICE raid resulted in 800 dangerous criminals escaping arrest. 

"I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," Schwab, who was hired in 2015, 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."

New York, New York / United States - February 10, 2018: Image shows 'deport ice sign'. Demonstration to protest deportation of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir “You Can’t Deport a Movement”.
New York, New York / United States - February 10, 2018: Image shows 'deport ice sign'. Demonstration to protest deportation of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir "You Can't Deport a Movement". Shutterstock / Cat April Watters

Both Sessions and Acting Director Tom Homan criticized the mayor for her decision. In a statement released to the public, Homan said, "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." Schwab told CNN he took issue with the statement, noting that ICE never picks up 100 percent of their targets and claiming that it was "misleading" to call these undocumented immigrants dangerous.

Schwab also told reporters the number of undocumented immigrants who escaped arrest was far lower than the reported 864. When he told Homan and Sessions that he wanted them to correct the record, they insisted that he instead simply deflect questions about it.

"I've never been in this situation in 16 almost 17 years in government where someone asked me to deflect when we absolutely knew something was awry -- when the data was not correct," he told CNN.

In an statement emailed to A Plus, ICE spokesperson Liz Johnson weighed in on Schwab's criticism of the agency's numbers.

"Even one criminal alien on the street can put public safety at risk and as Director Homan stated, while we can't put a number on how many targets avoided arrest due to the mayor's warning, it clearly had an impact," Johnson wrote. "While we disagree with Mr. Schwab on this issue, we appreciate his service and wish him well."

Schwab's resignation comes just weeks after Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, a legal secretary at the Montana Department of Labor, quit his job when he said ICE asked him to process information on undocumented immigrants. It also comes at a time when ICE is under increased scrutiny for separating families, deporting nonviolent criminals and using unusual tactics to detain and arrest undocumented immigrants. 

"Our immigration system does not respect people as human beings," Dyrdahl-Roberts told A Plus after his resignation. "And given the way that ICE's tactics and their priorities have changed, it's become a step too far to just kind of go along to get along."

This story has been updated to include a statement from ICE.

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