James Schwab, a spokesman for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has resigned, citing what he says are falsehoods being spread by members of the Trump administration including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Mayor Schaaf told The Washington Post in an interview earlier this month that she made a decision to warn the immigrant community of the impending ICE raid for fear that the operation was not wholly targeting "criminals", and that, instead, hard-working mothers or fathers without criminal records might end up arrested and deported.
"The more people I have in the jail the less people I have to send out on the street to look for them", the official said, speaking on condition he not be named as part of a background briefing set up by the White House ahead of President Trump's trip to California Tuesday.
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.
Schwab said he could not stand behind Trump officials' claim that as many as 800 people had evaded arrest because of Schaaf's actions. "To say that 100 percent are unsafe criminals on the street, or that those people weren't picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong". "It's a false statement because we never pick up 100% of our targets".
ICE also issued a press release last week claiming that "864 criminal aliens" had evaded authorities.
Schwab, who joined the agency in 2015, said he wanted the agency to correct the claim, saying he believed the number to be much lower and did not want to "deflect" questions from reporters, according to the Chronicle.
"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, adding that in his 16 years of experience in government he had never been asked to deflect when he knew something was inaccurate.
In fact, Schwab told Oakland Fox affiliate KTVU that the raid netted more arrests than initially planned. "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".
The Oakland mayor has applauded the former spokesperson's decision. Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts wrote a piece in mid-February detailing his hard decision to resign as legal secretary for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry because he didn't want to help process documents that could help ICE track down and deport undocumented immigrants.
"I didn't feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against (Schaaf's) actions was the way to go about it", he continued. I think she could have had other options. "I felt like we weren't doing that", he said.
Schwab took issue with the assertion that Schaff's warning resulted in several hundred people escaping arrest.
Of the battle over how to properly characterize the events, Schwab said, "I've never been in this situation in 16, nearly 17 years in government where someone asked me to deflect when we absolutely knew something was awry - when the data was not correct". "Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard", the mayor said. "It was my first time being asked to do that".