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Homeland Security releases 2,000 illegal immigrants

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Due to looming budget cuts, the Homeland Security Department released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants who were facing deportation. The department seeks to release 3,000 more illegal immigrants later this month.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The newly disclosed figures are significantly higher than the "few hundred" illegal immigrants the Obama administration acknowledged this week had been released under the budget-savings process.

Customs Enforcement released roughly 1,000 illegal immigrants from its jails around the U.S. each week since at least Feb. 15. The agency's field offices have reported more than 2,000 immigrants released before intense criticism this week led to a temporary shutdown of the plan.

The states where immigrants were released include Arizona, California, Georgia and Texas. The Obama administration has said it was not consulted about the releases. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has acknowledged they occurred in a manner she regrets.

The government had released "a few hundred" of the roughly 30,000 illegal immigrants held in federal detention pending deportation proceedings, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney, who said the immigrants released were "low-risk, noncriminal detainees." The decision was made by career ICE officials.

The agency held an average daily population of 30,733 in its jails. The internal budget documents reviewed by the Associated Press shows the Obama administration had intended to reduce those figures to 25,748 by March 31. The White House has not officially commented on the higher number of immigrants released.

"Beyond that normal movement, and as fiscal uncertainty remains over the continuing resolution and possible sequestration, ICE reviewed its detained population to ensure detention levels stay within ICE's current budget and placed several hundred individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention," ICE spokesman Brian Hale said. The numbers of immigration detainees fluctuate daily, but Hale reiterated only several hundred illegal immigrants had been released.

"At this point, we don't anticipate additional releases, but that could change."

The immigrants who were released still eventually face deportation and are required to appear for upcoming court hearings. But they are no longer confined in immigration jails, where advocacy experts say they cost about $164 per day, per person. Immigrants who are granted supervised release cost the government from 30 cents to $14 a day, according to the National Immigration Forum, a group that advocates on behalf of immigrants.

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