Homeland Security Head: Maybe Releasing Thousands Of Illegal Immigrants Wasn’t Such A Good Idea

illegal-immigrants-released by ICE

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has admitted that the mass the mass release of hundreds of illegal immigrants from jail who were facing deportation in anticipation of sequestration-driven budget cuts wasn’t such a good idea.

Some estimates put the number of detainees let go so far at 2,000 rather than the several hundred the Obama administration claims.

According to the New York Times, those sprung from ICE custody in various locations around the country including Hudson County, New Jersey, Polk County, Texas, Broward County, Florida, New Orleans, and in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and New York. Some county sheriffs and other law enforcement officials have called the release of illegal aliens “dangerous” and “politically motivated.”

The Times, which generally cheerleads for the Obama administration, described the release of so many deportation-eligible detainees in a short period of time as “extraordinary.”

Napolitano — who had a very poor record on border security when she was governor of Arizona — insisted that this decision was made by career Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials without her knowledge and had nothing to do with political blackmail by the White House against Congress. But she admitted it wasn’t handled well. According to The Hill, Napolitano had this to say:

“Detainee populations and how that is managed back and forth is really handled by career officials in the field.

“Do I wish that this all hadn’t been done all of a sudden and so that people weren’t surprised by it? Of course.”

The illegal aliens released last week by the Obama administration — which already does not full enforce the immigration laws on the books — were described as non-criminal, low risk offenders, but that’s easy for a bureaucrat sitting behind a desk somewhere to say.

The decision to release these individuals was supposedly made by ICE official Gary Mead without consulting the White House. Conveniently enough Gary Mead announced his retirement on the same day, according to AP. However, the administration insists that Mead’s retirement was in the works for several weeks and was unrelated to the decision to release hundreds of illegal immigrants from detention. AP has also reported that ICE plans to release 3,000 more illegal aliens from custody this month.

Republican lawmakers blasted what Investor’s Business Daily called a “budget pardon.” US Sen Jeff Sessions (R – Ala.) is not a fan of this apparent political scare tactic either according to the Washington Times:

“The last thing you would do to meet a budget cut of this size would be to voluntarily undertake actions that undermine the rule of law and endanger the public safety. It is clear the administration is using the sequester as a convenient excuse to bow to political pressure from the amnesty groups, as it did with its unilateral decision to confer legal status on millions who are not lawfully present.”

GOP lawmakers in both chambers have sent Secretary Napolitano and ICE Director John Mortion letters demanding more information on this issue.

In a letter to Secretary Napolitano, Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Bob Goodlatte claimed that other reports indicate that illegal aliens who are documented gang members and those who have been arrested, for but not convicted, of a serious crime also received a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Napolitano is scheduled to testify before Congress on another matter on Wednesday, but sparks will likely fly about the detainee release.

Investor’s Business Daily asks perhaps the key question in this controversy:

“Considering ICE only has to reduce expenditures by 5.3% and that it had months to prepare, a better question to ask is why efficiency has to come at the expense of public safety?”

Do you think that releasing these individuals from detention facilities around the country is legitimately a consequence of limited staffing levels from the sequester’s automatic spending caps or is it just political gamesmanship to force the American people into accepting higher taxes and more runaway spending?