ImmigrationICE agents re-arrest four immigrants released last month

Published 20 March 2013

As part of a departmental belt-tightening move, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month released 2,228 immigrants from detention, of which 629 had criminal records. Ten of those were Level One offenders, and four have them have been rearrested by ICE agents.

The Obama administration  announced  it had rearrested four of the most dangerous immigrants who were released last month from a federal detention center as a result of departmental belt tightening required by federal budget cuts.

A Washington Times reports that  John Morton, the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told Congress that the agency released ten “level one” offenders, but has apprehended four of them. The other six are considered non-violent and therefore will not be apprehended.

Morton also told Congress that 2,228 immigrants were released last month in the money-saving move, and that of those, 629 have criminal records. It was originally reported by DHS that only a few hundred criminals were released.

According to Morton he had a choice between keeping 34,000 immigrants in detention and giving ICE agents a two-week furlough, which would have affected investigations involving drug, child pornography, and money-laundering cases.

“I don’t think it would be good policy to ask us to maintain 34,000 at the expense of those kinds of investigations,” Morton told the Times.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the immigrants release,  saying the agency has lost credibility and has mismanaged their priorities.

“Today’s ICE testimony directly contradicts repeated assurances and explanations peddled by the Obama administration in the days after the mass release of illegal aliens became public knowledge,” Arizona governor Jan Brewer told the  Times. “The American people were initially told there were hundreds, not thousands, of individuals released. We were assured they were low-level detainees of little public risk. As we now know, neither of these claims was accurate.”

Many members of Congress looked to DHS secretary Janet Napolitano for answers about the release, but  Morton told Congress that he made the move without her input, but even he was unable to answer all the question lawmakers asked.

According to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Morton’s testimony did not offer many answers.

“Why was the secretary of Homeland Security not aware of the release of convicted criminals by her own agency? Why did she tell us it was only hundreds who were released when we now learn it was thousands?” Cornyn told the Times. “This is evidence of serious mismanagement at DHS under Secretary Napolitano.”

ICE said their decision to release the immigrants was more than just as result of the sequestration. A secondary reason for the releases was the fact that  the agency has detained more people in the first half of the fiscal year and needed to slow down the pace of detention to fit its budget even before it was cut.

ICE has funds to maintain an average of 34,000 immigrants in detention, but at the time of the releases the agency was keeping about two thousand more immigrants.