A former spokesman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it “doesn’t make sense” to get rid of ICE despite public criticism of the agency, and that agents “have a rough time with this too” in the midst of backlash over the separation of undocumented families at the border.
When CNN’s Van Jones asked James Schwab, a former spokesman for ICE’s San Francisco division, if he believes the agency should be abolished or shut down, Schwab said, “It just doesn’t make sense to me. Immigration enforcement is important, both sides agree on that. If you get rid of it, then what? You need something there.”
Calls to “abolish ICE” are growing louder as prominent Democrats, like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, take aim at the agency.
Schwab also defended ICE agents during an interview on “The Van Jones Show,” which airs at 7 p.m., ET, on Sunday, saying, “These are parents themselves. I know people aren’t sympathetic to deportation officers, but they have a rough time with this too and I think more so under this administration.”
President Donald Trump recently reversed course and signed an executive order aimed at keeping undocumented families together following public outcry over the separation of parents and children at the border.
Jones also asked Schwab about a recent video that shows him getting interrupted during a CBS News interview by two men who show up at his door. CBS has identified the men as agents from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office.
Schwab said the interruption was “shocking,” and “it just seemed like two thugs coming to the door and threatening me.”
When Jones asked Schwab, who has been described as a whistleblower, if he will stop talking, Schwab said, “absolutely not.”
“No special agent is going to stop me from talking. I did nothing wrong,” he said.
In March, California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, along with other Senate Democrats, wrote to the department’s inspector general asking for an investigation into Schwab’s resignation after the former spokesman said he resigned over misleading statements from agency officials in connection with an ICE raid.
Referring to Schwab’s description of the statements in question, ICE spokeswoman Liz Johnson told CNN, ‘We disagree with Mr. Schwab on this issue and dispute his characterization.”
Johnson said that “recent calls to abolish ICE are dangerously misguided and overlook the vital work that ICE officers and special agents perform each day.” She added, “Instead of being insulted with politically-motivated attacks, the men and women of ICE should be praised for risking life and limb every day in the name of national security and public safety.”
The DHS inspector general’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.