Although James Schwab did not discuss the specifics of his resignation, sources told the San Francisco Chronicle in an article published Monday that he was "frustrated" with the statements officials made arguing that 800 undocumented immigrants were able to avoid arrest because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a public warning about immigration raids the day before they began.
"How dare she say we are terrorizing communities?"
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 risky situations, all because of one mayor's irresponsible action". "I asked them to change the information.
To say that 100 percent are risky criminals on the street, or that those people weren't picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong", he told the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday (March 12).
The senior official said ICE has concluded both requests are legal, but he would be satisfied if local law enforcement at least gave the heads-up before release, giving his officers a chance to collect targets before they're released into the community. "To say that 100 percent are risky criminals on the street, or that those people weren't picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong", Schwab said.
Schwab joins other notable federal government workers who publicly resigned over disagreements with the Trump administration on immigration.
ICE spokesperson Liz Johnson issued the following statement regarding Schwab's resignation.
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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.
Schwab told the newspaper he tried to get ICE to correct the figures quoted by Sessions and others, but was instead asked to deflect reporters' questions. "I've never been in a situation when I've been asked to ignore the facts because it was more convenient".
As he told the Chronicle, "I didn't feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against her actions was the way to go about it". They blamed Schaaf's warning for ICE's failure to apprehend all of its targets-the raid resulted in around 200 arrests.
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. Sessions accused the Oakland mayor of promoting "a radical open-borders agenda". According to ICE, of the 232 people picked up, 115 had felonies or misdemeanors.
ICE responded to Mr. Schwab's comments in a statement, saying, "Even one criminal alien on the street can put public safety at risk".
California a year ago passed three sanctuary laws that severely limit local law enforcement's ability to communicate with federal authorities and hold illegal immigrants so ICE can pick them up and potentially proceed with deportation.
"Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard", she said.
"It's the job of a public affairs officer to offer transparency for the agency you work for", he told the Chronicle. "I felt like we weren't doing that", he said. "It was my first time being asked to do that".