Former ICE spokesman speaks out: I was asked to perpetuate a 'flat-out lie'


A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman slammed the agency for being “OK with lying to the American public” in his first TV interview since he resigned in March.

James Schwab told CBS News on Wednesday that he became “extremely uncomfortable” in February when Attorney General Jeff Sessions made false statements about immigration raids in Oakland, California.

“They failed to correct it, it’s a flat-out lie,” Schwab said. “They know it’s a lie. It was just shocking to me that no one wanted to fix that.”

He added: “I could not fathom staying at an organization that was OK with lying to the American public. I hate that.”

Sessions blamed Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for allowing 800 “wanted aliens” to escape arrest by tipping off the public about ICE plans to raid the city.

But Schwab said that Sessions’ claim was “completely false” and that Justice Department and ICE officials grossly exaggerated the mayor’s impact on the number of arrests.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field, 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, arrests Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. on February 9, 2017. Picture taken on February 9, 2017. Courtesy Bryan Cox/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on February 7, 2017. Picture taken on February 7, 2017. Courtesy Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer helps out a few boys who are trying to make phone calls as they are joined by hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children that are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona June 18, 2014. CBP provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Ross D. Franklin/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS)
Migrants, consisting of mostly women and children, disembark from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bus at a Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, Arizona May 29, 2014. Local media reported that ICE had been releasing migrants who pose no security risk at Greyhound bus stations in Tuscon and Phoenix due to a lack of manpower, and those released have to make their own way to their declared U.S. destinations and are required to report to a local ICE office within 15 days. REUTERS/Samantha Sais (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers arrive to a Flatbush Gardens home in search of an undocumented immigrant on April 11, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officer brings an undocumented immigrant into an ICE processing center on April 11, 2018 at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are especially controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officer interviews an immigrant at an ICE processing center after officers arrested her on April 11, 2018 inside the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are frequently controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers prepare for morning operations to arrest undocumented immigrants on April 11, 2018 in New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers look to arrest an undocumented immigrant during an operation in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 11, 2018 in New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers depart after an operation to arrest an wanted undocumented immigrant on April 11, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), security officers watch over undocumented immigrant at an ICE processing center on April 11, 2018 at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are especially controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers arrive to a Flatbush Gardens home in search of a wanted undocumented immigrant on April 11, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A security officer looks out of a window at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in Washington DC on October 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer and a security officer look on at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in Washington DC on October 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11: A law enforcement officer walks past ICE logo ahead of a press conference on Thursday, May 11, 2017, at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Washington, DC. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers search undocumented immigrants after detaining them in raids and bringing them to an ICE processing center on April 11, 2018 at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are especially controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers stage a raid to arrest an undocumented immigrant in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 11, 2018 in New York City. ICE detentions are frequently controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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“Internally, that [raid] was considered a success,” said Schwab, noting that ICE arrested 232 of roughly 1,000 undocumented immigrants it set out to detain that day. “But what they publicly said was that [Schaaf] let people go. Not true.”

During the taping of Schwab’s interview with CBS, two men who identified themselves as agents of the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s Office knocked on his front door.

“They just said they wanted to talk to me about the leak with the Oakland mayor. ... I’ve never met her before. I’ve never contacted her,” Schwab told CBS News. He said the agents’ surprise visit was an attempt to intimidate him. 

“This is why people won’t come out and speak against the government,” he said. “To actually prepare and stand out in front of the public and perpetuate something that you know is absolutely false is not OK ― and no special agent from Department of Homeland Security is going to stop me from saying that.”

Neither ICE nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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