OAKLAND — A couple years ago, James Schwab was at Oakland airport escorting a local journalist reporting on the ICE detainee flights from that facility.
The former Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman — who resigned in protest earlier this year after refusing to “lie” about a controversial raid warning by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf — has one image from the tarmac that day seared into his memory.
A shackled grandmother was being loaded onto a chartered jet. She had no criminal record. She was in the country to take care of her grandchildren while their mother and father worked, he said.
“She was here illegally, yes,” Schwab said. “But why aren’t we fixing the laws? … It was the moment I realized how serious the immigration situation was in America.”
It was just one moment in Schwab’s three years and eight months with ICE, but it helped evolve his views on immigration and the job he was hired to do.
Schwab’s life and career have been thrust into the national spotlight after he abruptly resigned in March when he said his bosses asked him to perpetuate a lie being shared by senior Trump administration officials and the president himself. The White House had been pushing the narrative that Schaaf’s warning of an imminent ICE raid allowed more than 800 dangerous criminals to avoid capture. However, Schwab said that the raid was only supposed to nab 150 to 200 individuals, and was considered a success when 232 people were arrested.
Born in the small town of Cadillac, Michigan, Schwab, 38, joined the Army and was stationed on the Korean border for almost four years. He came to California and joined the Army Reserve before becoming a civilian Department of Defense spokesman. He worked for three years at NASA Ames Research Center before joining Homeland Security.
“When I started at ICE I was admittedly ignorant of immigration enforcement,” he said, but he felt it was important to bring transparency to all government agencies and he checked his political leanings at the door.
His experience behind the scenes has changed him though.
“Now after seeing things happen, it caused me to think more intently about how ICE impacted communities and how the administration uses rhetoric to cause pain,” Schwab said.
Schwab now lives in San Jose with his husband and is looking for a new job. He doubts he’ll work for the federal government again, but he hasn’t ruled out speaking out on …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News