Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The White House said Wednesday the release of detained immigrants awaiting deportation was a decision of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) alone as the move raised a howl from Republican congressmen.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the administration had no input in the ICE decision announced Tuesday. ICE officials said the move was a cost-saving measure in the face of the automatic budget cuts taking effect Friday. It costs the agency at least $122 to detain each immigrant who committed minor or serious crime.
But ICE assured that the released detainees will still be supervised and monitored. Also, their deportation will still be pursued.
Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) criticized Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton.
In a letter to Morton Wednesday with a copy for Napolitano, McCaul said the release of the detainees “reflects the lack of resource prioritization within the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is indicative of the Department’s weak stance on National Security.”
McCaul said ICE also failed to notify the appropriate Congressional oversight committees about the release.
He accused ICE of violating the law as it reported that only 30,773 bed spaces for illegal immigrant detainees were filled last week when the agency was provided 34,000 bed spaces.
The congressman demanded an explanation from Morton by March 6. He also asked Morton how many ICE detainees were released and to be released, the dates of future releases and where the detainees will be released.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) accused the Obama administration of endangering the public by releasing criminal immigrants.