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ICE spokesman James Schwab quits, disputes claims 800 eluded arrest

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman in San Francisco has resigned after becoming frustrated by Trump administration statements about a recent sweep targeting illegal immigration. James Schwab told The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday that officials, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, repeatedly said roughly 800 immigrants escaped arrest because of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff's Feb. 24 warning about the four-day operation.

Schwab understood the number to be lower and he didn't want to deflect media questions about it. 

"I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," Schwab told The 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 says statements were misleading because the agency would never be able to capture everyone on the Northern California target list. 

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

The mayor praised Schwab.   

Sessions said he had learned that "ICE failed to make 800 arrests that they would have made if the mayor had not acted as she did."