However, Schwab told the San Francisco Chronicle that he quit because he did not want to give a false number to the public.
"I asked them to change the information", he told The Chronicle, referring to the 864 people to whom the statement alluded. "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.
The 38-year-old credited his decision to the frustration that resulted from distorted information the Trump Administration and ICE were spreading in regard to recent immigration sweeps in Northern California.
"Director Homan and the Attorney General said there were 800 people at large and free to roam because of the actions of the Oakland Mayor".
Schwab, however, said that both the number of potential arrests and the blame heaped on Schaaf by officials was wrong.
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"I didn't feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against [the mayor's] actions was the way to go about it", he told the Chronicle.
"We were never going to pick up that many people. To say that 100 percent are risky criminals on the street, or that those people weren't picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong".
"Of the 232 people arrested, ICE stated that 115, or just under half, had "prior felony convictions for serious and violent offenses" or past convictions for 'significant or multiple misdemeanors.' The other half had no criminal history".
Schwab also criticized the mayor's warning as "misguided", but he told Fox affiliate KTVU after resigning that ICE ended up capturing 232 suspected undocumented immigrants - even more than officials had originally expected. "But to blame her for 800 risky people out there is just false", he continued.
Schwab is a longtime government spokesman, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Schwab also said he is a registered Democrat, but has been a loyal federal servant, regardless of which party is in power.
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Schwab's departure follows the February resignation of a Montana Labor Department worker Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts who quit his job as a legal assistant after being told he'd have to process labor records subpoenas for ICE. A Justice Department spokesperson could not immediately be reached. She told the story of Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, a mother of four and nurse at an Oakland public hospital, who was deported last August despite having no criminal record. At the time, Schaaf said she wanted to protect "law-abiding" immigrants from "the constant threat of arrest and deportation". "And under this administration they were ripped away from their family". Then Trump characterized Schaaf's action as "a disgrace," and said ICE was going to arrest "close to 1,000 people", but only got "a fraction" because of her warning.
The Oakland mayor has applauded the former spokesperson's decision. I think she could have had other options.
Schwab, however, told the Chronicle that those statements were falsehoods, and led to his resignation.
ICE Director Thomas Homan said in a statement that "there's 800 that we are unable to locate because of that warning, so that community is a lot less safe than it would have been".
"It's the job of a public affairs officer to offer transparency for the agency you work for. I felt like we weren't doing that", Schwab said.
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".
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