Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

ICE agents

ICE officers, in search of 32-year-old Hugo Medina, question his mother Magdalena Medina, 69, about his whereabout in a morning raid on his residence in Riverside. (Photo: Irfan Khan/LA Times via Getty Images)

'I Didn't Feel Like Fabricating the Truth': ICE Spokesperson Quits Over Agency Falsehoods

"Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Jessica Corbett

A spokesman for the San Francisco division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has resigned over what he says were falsehoods by public officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, about recent raids by federal agents in California, and being pressured by agency leadership to repeat those misleading statements.

"I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts."
—James Schwab, former ICE spokesman

"I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," James Schwab, who has worked for ICE since 2015, 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."

Schwab said he "just couldn't bear the burden—continuing on as a representative of the agency and charged with upholding integrity, knowing that information was false."

In a separate interview, he said he was "scared," but added, "I need to have my integrity."

Two weeks ago, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a warning to community members when she learned that ICE was preparing raids across Northern California. In response to her actions, Schaaf was lauded by immigrant rights advocates but attacked by agency officials, Sessions, and even President Donald Trump.

In one such ICE statement, put out on Feb. 27, a few days after the raids began, ICE's acting director claimed that "864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community," in part due to Schaaf's warning on Twitter, which mobilized local activists.

The assertion that "800 wanted criminals" remain at large and are a threat to public safety has been repeated by Sessions. But Schwab, the former spokesman who handed in his resignation on Friday, claims that number is far lower, and that he encountered pushback from the agency for wanting to tell the press the truth. 

Schwab told a local television news station, KTVU, that ICE had initally anticipated arresting fewer than the 232 individuals who were taken into custody during the operation. However, leadership in ICE's Office of Public Affairs urged him to push the narrative of the Feb. 27 statement and defer other questions to the Justice Department. 

"I didn't feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against [Schaaf's] actions was the way to go about it," said Schwab. "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."

Although Schwab says he disagrees with Schaaf's initial warning about the raids, the mayor praised the former ICE official's decision to resign over the agency's dishonesty.

"I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie," Schaaf said. "Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

PG&E Should Be Broken Up Over Probation 'Crime Spree': Judge

The utility is emerging from probation this week as "a continuing menace" to Californians, said a federal judge.

Julia Conley ·


State AGs Allege Google Deceived Users to Profit From Location Data

"Google has a powerful financial incentive to obscure the details of its location data collection practices and to make it difficult for consumers to opt out of being tracked," said one AG.

Kenny Stancil ·


WHO Chief: 'Dangerous' to Assume Omicron Is Last Variant

"On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Jake Johnson ·


British Court Rules Assange Can Appeal US Extradition

"As long as this case isn't dropped, as long as Julian isn't freed, Julian continues to suffer," said Stella Moris, Assange's fiancée.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Considering Deploying Thousands of Troops to Eastern Europe

Anti-war commentators warned of an "exceedingly dangerous quagmire" in Ukraine if the U.S. ramps up its military presence in the region.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo