On February 24, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf pissed off the Trump administration and the Deport Everyone crowd by spilling the beans about a planned series of ICE raids that she’d gotten some inside information about. Schaaf has remained unapologetic about it, even though she’s been excoriated by ICE and by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (vomit!) for having tipped off TONS of DANGEROUS CRIMINALS who made themselves scarce. Or maybe, this being ICE under the New Cruelty, letting a lot of undocumented people who weren’t dangerous go to ground and contact lawyers.
In the wake of what he considered damn lies — that Schaaf’s warning allowed 800 or more immigrants to escape justice — ICE spokesperson James Schwab resigned late last week, saying he couldn’t keep doing his job because he was being pressured to give false information to the public. Schwab told the San Francisco Chronicle,
“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” said Schwab, 38, who was hired in 2015 and resigned last week. “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.”
Schwab said the statements about immigrants evading arrest, which were widely quoted in an array of media outlets, were misleading “because we were not ever going to be able to capture 100 percent of the target list” of roughly 1,000 undocumented immigrants in Northern California.
He also objected to the insinuation that all those targeted for arrest had been dangerous criminals, because Jesus Christ have you seen how ICE has been operating lately? (OK, that last part is Yr Wonkette editorializing.)
Several officials have made misleading statements about the effects of Schaaf’s public warning about the raids, during which 232 undocumented migrants were arrested statewide. A February 27 comment by Thomas Homan, the head of ICE, first gave the total number of people targeted, but at least didn’t suggest they all escaped arrest because of Schaaf:
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 offered a more inflamatory take just a day later:
Justice Department lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary” laws, Jeff Sessions also used the inflated number, saying,
There’s 800 that we are unable to locate because of that warning, so that community is a lot less safe than it would have been.
ICE failed to make 800 arrests that they would have made if the mayor had not acted as she did. Those are 800 wanted aliens that are now at large in that community.
Not to be outdone, Donald Trump blamed Schaaf for personally preventing the arrests of “close to a thousand” people.
Schwab said he just couldn’t be a party to spreading such inaccurate information, although apparently up to now he’d found absolutely nothing problematic about the ICEstapo’s spin on the immigrant threat:
hadn’t been an arrest at a hospital, since technically the arrest began when her ambulance was stopped at a highway checkpoint.
“It’s the job of a public affairs officer to offer transparency for the agency you work for. I felt like we weren’t doing that,” he said. “I’ve never been in a situation when I’ve been asked to ignore the facts because it was more convenient. It was my first time being asked to do that.”
Not incidentally, even though Mr. Schwab left ICE because he was unwilling to repeat that misleading claim about the California raids, Media Matters notes that Fox News continues to repeat Homan’s claims about “800 criminal aliens” escaping arrest, over and over and over. So in case you were wondering, a spokesman for the ICEstasi has a bit more ethical fiber than anyone at Fox News.
Maybe Shep Smith will mention Schwab’s fact check, at least. Or not. It’s been a pretty busy news cycle.