ICE responds to spokesperson's resignation over claims about Mayor Schaaf's raid warning

Pauline Gross
March 14, 2018

"Then I took some time and I quit", Schwab said.

A spokesman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says he quit over what he called "misleading facts" spread by Trump administration officials.

Schaaf's warning on February 24, an attempt to protect undocumented immigrants who did not have criminal charges against them and would be separated from their families if detained, ruined the operation that would have arrested potentially hundreds of "criminal aliens", according to statements from ICE Acting Director Thomas D. Homan, Sessions, and Trump.

An official at the Department of Homeland Security, which includes ICE, briefed on the plans for the raid said last month that agents find only about 30 percent of their targets on average during large sweeps.

Trump called what Schaaf did "a disgrace", saying her warning was the sole reason that hundreds of people escaped arrest. Jerry Brown slammed the lawsuit as one of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "political stunts" meant to "divide and polarize America".

Their claims were questioned by critics - and now by Schwab, a veteran public affairs officer who had worked at the Defense Department and NASA. "We were never going to pick up that many people. But to blame her for 800 risky people out there is just false".

He explained that the enforcement agency would have been unlikely to capture all of the roughly 1,000 undocumented immigrants in the area that it had targeted, and that it was incorrect to identify those who were not detained as threats to public safety.

During the four-day operation, ICE made 232 arrests.

The Trump administration recently sued California for three laws it argues prevent immigration officials from carrying out federal immigration law.

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Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan on the challenges to the agency from local officials in sanctuary cities such as San Francisco.

"Personally I think her actions were misguided and not responsible", Schwab told CNN. "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". But to blame her for 800 unsafe people out there is just false.

"The people we arrested during this California operation - [who have committed] lascivious acts with a juvenile, assault with deadly weapons, murder - these people were terrorizing immigrant communities", Homan said to FOX Business' Stuart Varney on "Varney & Co". "And to say they're a type of risky criminal is also misleading", he said. "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 said.

After the raid, Homan accused Schaaf of creating a risky situation for ICE agents. "Unlike the politicians who attempt to undermine ICE's critical mission, our officers will continue to fulfill their sworn duty to protect public safety".

The ICE director went further the next day, according to the Chronicle, when he said "there's 800 that we are unable to locate because of that warning" - essentially blaming all the escapees on the mayor.

Last week, Sessions called out Schaaf, saying, "Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community - 800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue with more difficulty in more unsafe situations, all because of one mayor's irresponsible action". Where they had close to 1,000 people, ready to be gotten, ready to be taken off the streets. "How dare you?" he asked the mayor.

Then came the remarks from Trump - and another response from Oakland's mayor. "I have officers who are more likely now to push back", the official said.

"An insult from Donald Trump is a compliment to a California Democrat", political consultant Jim Ross tells The Mercury News in San Jose.

Other reports by GizPress

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