James Schwab, the San Francisco spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), quit his fulltime job because he refused to continue working for the Trump administration, which he said spreads falsehoods.
"I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," Schwab 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."
After ICE's four-day Northern California sweep in February, 232 people were arrested. But federal officials, including Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and President Trump, said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, a Democrat who warned residents about an upcoming sweep, was to blame for more than 800 people evading arrest.
"Personally I think her actions were misguided and not responsible," Schwab, who had the position since 2015, told CNN. "I think she could have had other options. But to blame her for 800 dangerous people out there is just false.
"It's a false statement because we never pick up 100 percent of our targets," he said referring to the roughly 1,000 undocumented immigrants in Northern California.
Schwab wanted ICE to correct the number of people evading arrest that was being used in interviews and in press releases. He also did not want to deflect media questions about it.
"I didn't feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against [Schaaf's] actions was the way to go about it," he told the Chronicle. "We were never going to pick up that many people."
"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," he told CNN.
"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 said.
Before joining ICE, Schwab was a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Reserve Element, a public affairs office for the NASA Ames Research Center, and a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Schwab quit last week and ICE officials confirmed his resignation on Monday saying that he "recently announced his departure."
In a Feb. 27 press release, Acting Director of ICE Thomas 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."
Homan also went on Fox News and said:
"There are over 800 significant public-safety-threat criminals [who evaded arrest]. These are people are here already illegally and committed another crime and have been convicted of a crime."
"To say they're a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading," he said.
According to KQED, an ICE spokeswoman said the alleged 864 people were wanted for "violating immigration law." But, she provided just five examples of people on that list who ICE believes have been convicted of serious crimes.
The president's claim that 3 million to 5 million "illegals" voted has been debunked by numerous studies and mathematical improbability.
The news channel also reports, "Of the 232 people arrested, ICE stated that 115, or just under half, had 'prior felony convictions for serious and violent offenses' or past convictions for 'significant or multiple misdemeanors.' The other half had no criminal history.
"When asked to specify how many arrestees were felons, spokeswoman Danielle Bennett would only respond, 'all of those arrested were arrested for being in violation of immigration law.'"
Homan said on Fox News that the Department of Justice is reviewing Schaaf's actions.
Trump called Schaaf's actions "a disgrace."
"What the mayor of Oakland did the other day was a disgrace," he told reporters March 8 before a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
"Where they had close to 1,000 people ready to be gotten, ready to be taken off the streets," he said. "And the mayor of Oakland went out and she warned them all: 'Scatter.'"
Schaaf defended her actions on Twitter:
I do not regret sharing this information. It is Oakland's legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws. We believe our community is safer when families stay together. pic.twitter.com/ng13yq431L
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) February 28, 2018
She also defended Schwab's actions.
"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," Schaaf told KTVU.