More than 2,000 undocumented immigrants who are facing deportation have been released from jail by Homeland Security, due to the looming budget cuts.
There are plans to release 3,000 more during March, according to the Associated Press.
Internal budget documents seen by AP show that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released roughly 1,000 undocumented immigrants from its jails around the U.S. each week since at least February 15th. The immigrants were released from jails in Arizona, California, Georgia and Texas.
“We’re doing our very best to minimize the impacts of sequester, but there’s only so much I can do,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday. “You know, I’m supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration. How do I pay for those?”
Last Wednesday White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed the government had released a “few hundred” of the estimated 30,000 undocumented immigrants who are being held in Federal Detention pending deportation. He said the immigrants were “low risk, non criminal detainees.”
ICE spokesman Brian Hale said Friday that the number of detainees fluctuate daily.
“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,” Hale said in a statement.
“At this point, we don’t anticipate additional releases, but that could change.”
The immigrants will still face deportation proceedings and will be required to appear for upcoming court hearings.
Last Tuesday, the executive associate director over ICE enforcement and removal operations, Gary Mead, announced his retirement to his staff, the same day the administration confirmed the release of what it described as several hundred immigrants.