Detainees Freed as Sequester Looms


On Monday, in response to threatening federal budget cuts, the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) released individuals from immigrant detention centers
across the United States.

Across the board spending cuts are expected to take place on March 1 st, these cuts
are otherwise being referred to as so-called budget sequestration. As a result of
these expected budget cuts, ICE and the Department of Homeland Security have
had to analyze their current spending to date. What these agencies discovered is
that detaining immigrants comes at an expensive rate, roughly $124 to $166 per
detainee each day, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Less expensive
alternatives are ankle bracelets and parole.

According to ICE’s spokeswoman Gillian Christensen, “In order to make the best
use of our limited detention resources in the current fiscal climate and to manage
our detention population under current congressionally mandated levels, ICE has
directed field offices to review the detained population to ensure it is in line with
available funding,”

Christensen further stated that all released undocumented immigrants have
been placed on a more appropriate, cost-effective form of supervised release.
Furthermore, Christensen declined to state how many undocumented immigrants
were released or where they were being held. The release of these undocumented
immigrants does not change the status of their deportation case.

On the other hand, Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, announced
that under sequestration, ICE would be forced to reduce the number of detention
and removal of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The news of released detainees has been wide spread and has captured the
attention of immigrant rights groups who report that a large quantity of low level
detainees were released on Monday.

Immigration rights groups have gone after the Obama Administration in hopes
that the administration would shift their focus to more dangerous undocumented
immigrants. The Obama Administration has responded with assurances that it
will apply more “prosecutorial discretion to immigration,” by releasing immigrants
classified as low priority so more focus can be put on those immigrants deemed
potentially dangerous or high priority.

ICE reports show that the Obama Administration has set an overall record for