More Caribbean detainees released by US immigration authorities
WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Sunday March 17, 2013 – United States Immigration authorities have acknowledged releasing more Caribbean and other immigrants in detention centers and jails around the country than previously made public.
Officials now say that 2,228 illegal immigrants were released from detention in February and early March – not several hundred as previously announced. This was done in an effort to reduce spending in advance of mandatory US federal budget cuts.
Director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, John Morton, told a US House of Representatives’ subcommittee hearing that four of those discharged were rearrested after agents discovered they had violent criminal records.
He said at least six others had felony convictions or had repeatedly violated immigration laws, and that dozens more had been arrested for shoplifting and petty larceny, or cited for drunk driving.
Morton said the immigrants were released from jails and detention facilities between February 9 and March 1 for “solely budgetary reasons,” not for political considerations as alleged by US Congressional Republicans.
He said neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was involved in the decision to release the detainees.
“This was an ICE call,” Morton said. “I take full responsibility for it.”
Morton said ICE had faced a US$71-million budget gap, partially because Congress had provided funds to hold 34,000 people, not the 36,000 in custody.
He warned that the agency expected additional budget cuts under the so-called sequester that began March 1.
The Washington-based National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group, said each person detained costs US taxpayers US$164 a day, while each one released with GPS devices, mandatory check-ins or other supervision costs US$14 a day. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)