After Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a statement to warn the undocumented community of possible Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, the Trump Administration has gone on to spread falsehoods, according to a spokesman for the agency. In the aftermath of the raids, ICE‘s acting director, Thomas Homan, said that “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.” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who also blamed Schaaf, repeated the figure at the 26th annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day. But for James Schwab, what has transpired since has become too much to bear, so he quit as spokesman.
“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,” Schwab, who believes the number was exaggerated, told CNN. “It’s a false statement because we never pick up 100 percent of our targets. And to say they’re a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading.”
Schwab – who called Mayor Schaaf’s warning irresponsible – should of course not be praised for his decision to speak out. After all, he has worked for an institution meant to break up black and brown families. But his statement that placing blame on Schaaf for “800 dangerous people out there is just false” does peel back the curtain on a small part of a government that’s all too comfortable spreading misinformation.
His statements come nearly a year after an ICE agent opened up about the Trump Administration’s inhumane immigration policies to The New Yorker. The unnamed officer said that ICE used to look at the “totality of the circumstances when it came to a removal order, but that agents no longer feel pressed to follow any of the protocols established in previous administrations. From the agent’s observation, ICE officials are more likely to believe that immigrants don’t deserve any rights. “I have officers who are more likely now to push back,” the official said. “I’d never have someone say, ‘Why do I have to call an interpreter? Why don’t they speak English?’ Now I get it frequently.”
The agent, who tried to make it seem as though the agency acted compassionately before Trump, laid bare how an untethered ICE operates behind the scenes.