The controversy around raids in Northern California underscores how political immigration enforcement has become, on both sides.
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says he quit over what he called “misleading facts” spread by Trump administration officials.
The false information, according to the spokesman, James Schwab, is related to an ICE operation last month that targeted 1,000 undocumented immigrants in Northern California.
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf warned her community that the raid was coming, drawing the ire of ICE acting director Thomas Homan and US attorney general Jeff Sessions. They blamed Schaaf’s warning for ICE’s failure to apprehend all of its targets—the raid resulted in around 200 arrests. “Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large, 800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue by other means, with more difficulty, in dangerous situations, all because of one irresponsible action,” Sessions said during his visit last week to California.
But Schwab, who was the spokesman for ICE’s San Francisco office until he resigned, said that the operation was never realistically expected to render 1,000 arrests. “We were never going to pick up that many people. To say that 100 percent are dangerous 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).
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.
An ICE spokeswoman said that the agency disagrees with Schwab on the issue. Schaaf’s actions “clearly had an impact” on the number of arrests, though the agency can’t put a number on it. “Even one criminal alien on the street can put public safety at risk,” she said in a statement.
She said this of Schwab: “We appreciate his service and wish him well.”
The incident underscores how political immigration enforcement has become, on both sides. California has been fighting Trump’s agenda by publicly—and legally—protecting immigrants. The Trump administration is hitting back, filing a lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary” policies and launching a public-relations campaign to condemn them. Schwab appears to be the first official casualty of that PR war.