UPDATED: Homeland Security official resigns after illegal immigrants released ahead of sequester

Vince Coglianese Editorial Director
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Update, 10:00 p.m.: Mead, the director of enforcement and removal operations, had announced his retirement weeks ago to senior leadership in Homeland Security, according to ICE officials, who are pointedly insisting the move was entirely unrelated to the illegal immigrants’ release. ICE representatives have described the AP report cited below on Mead’s resignation as “inaccurate and misleading.”

Read the original story below:

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that an official with the Department of Homeland Security has resigned amid questions over why the Obama administration released illegal immigrants across the country ahead of March 1 budget cuts:

The Associated Press has learned that the Homeland Security Department official in charge of the agency’s immigration enforcement and removal operations has resigned after hundreds of illegal immigrants were released from jails because of government spending cuts.

In an email obtained Wednesday by the AP, Gary Mead told coworkers that he was leaving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the end of April. Mead is the head of enforcement and removal operations at ICE.

Mead had told co-workers of his resignation in the email sent Tuesday, hours after U.S. officials had confirmed that a few hundred illegal immigrants facing deportation had been released from immigration jails due to budget cuts.

President Barack Obama’s spokesman said Wednesday the White House was never consulted but described the immigrants as “low-risk, non-criminal detainees.”

According to an earlier report by the AP:

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Gillian Christensen, says the immigrants were being held around the country and being released and “placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release.” She did not say how many immigrants were released or how they were selected.

As the AP noted, the White House has sworn off any involvement in the decision, with spokesman Jay Carney telling reporters Wednesday that releasing the illegal immigrants was done “without any input from the White House.”

“This was a decision made by career officials at ICE without any input from the White House, as a result of fiscal uncertainty over the continuing resolution, as well as possible sequestration,” Carney said.

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