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14 March 2018, 04:31 | Opal Carroll
US law reigns on immigration. In blocking it, California makes us less safe
Sessions and the ICE department accused the mayor of allowing 800 risky illegal immigrants to roam the city, a number Schwab said was "misleading". They should not be blamed, Schwab said, as they are carrying out orders from the top.
"Sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Oakland shield unsafe criminal aliens from federal law enforcement at the expense of public safety", Homan said of Schaaf's warning.
And just last week, in Sacramento, Sessions said, "Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community - 800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue with more difficulty in more risky situations, all because of one mayor's irresponsible action".
Schwab said that, before resigning, as he was faced with questions from reporters about Homan's and Sessions' comments, he hoped he could set the record straight and correct the idea that hundreds of risky criminals got away thanks to Schaaf. Although he agrees that Schaaf's actions were "misguided" and "not responsible", he takes issue with placing her with the blame of 800 risky people remaining at large.
"We were never going to pick up that many people", he said. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn't agree with that.
Schwab felt conflicted between upholding transparency and following the leadership of his department, but ultimately resigned over the issue.
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".
In a speech last week to the California Peace Officers' Association, Sessions said "ICE failed to make 800 arrests" because of Schaaf's actions, citing a briefing from Homan. "But to blame her for 800 unsafe people out there is just false". "Then I took some time and I quit".
In the weeks following Schaaf's tip-off, Homan, Sessions, and Trump all lambasted the Oakland mayor and cited similar figures.
When he told supervisors he was not comfortable perpetuating that narrative, Schwab said he was told by the Office of Public Affairs to repeat what was in the February 27 news release and defer questions to the Department of Justice.
Schwab said he pushed back on that characterization - but said ICE instructed him to "deflect" questions from the press.
He added when he took the job in August 2015 during the Obama administration, after having worked as a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Reserve in Mountain View and as a spokesman for the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field for more than 15 years, he never could have imagined what he would be asked to do. "While we disagree with Mr. Schwab on this issue, we appreciate his service and wish him well", the department told TheDCNF in a statement.
In a subsequent statement to The Post, Flores wrote: "Does anyone seriously dispute that the Mayor attempted to thwart the efforts of federal law enforcement to apprehend wanted aliens in Oakland - many of whom had previously been arrested or convicted of crimes ranging from drug trafficking, to domestic abuse, to child pornography?"
The Oakland mayor has applauded the former spokesperson's decision.
"I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie", she said in a statement to The Post. "Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard".
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