In advance of the mandatory budget cuts set to take effect at the end of the week, the Department of Homeland Security has already started releasing illegal immigrants from detention centers around the country — a move Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions believes is due to politics, not necessity.
“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,” the Alabama senator and vocal immigration hawk said in a statement Tuesday.
“With this new action, the administration has further demonstrated that it has no commitment to enforcing the law and cannot be trusted to deliver on any future promises of enforcement,” he added.
Monday evening an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement, first reported by The Huffington Post, that the agency’s decision to review and release illegal immigrant detainees was done “to make the best use of our limited detention resources in the current fiscal climate.”
She added that ICE will continue to prosecute the cases.
Sessions however is not buying ICE’s excuse.
“There is no logical or rational reason why the 5.3 percent cut to ICE’s operating budget would have to result in forcing law officers to immediately release already-apprehended illegal aliens and fugitives in federal detention. 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,” he said, adding that other savings could be found in “facilities maintenance, equipment maintenance, communications, travel” and the like.
“The Administration also had months to plan for this eventuality and could have developed numerous alternatives to this reckless action,” he said.
Last month Sessions called for the resignation of ICE Director John Morton, citing his failure to enforce current immigration law.
He added that this latest action could prove detrimental to current proposals for immigration reform.
“The Administration’s decision to release thousands in ICE custody further reduces the chances of reaching a bipartisan immigration accord,” Sessions said.
A spokesman for Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told Fox News that ICE officials have said they plan to release 10,000 illegal immigrants.