DHS Releasing 5,000 Criminal Illegal Alien Detainees in Light of Sequester Cuts

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This is pretty unbelievable. After DHS head Napolitano claimed that the 2,000 illegal immigrants recently released by ICE had nothing to do with sequestration, we get this memo saying that is exactly what is going on.

From the Washington Examiner:

House investigators learned Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials developed plans to release about 5,000 illegal immigrant detainees, although Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has denied responsibility for the decision.

“An internal document obtained by the House Judiciary Committee shows that Administration officials at ICE prepared cold calculations to release thousands of criminal aliens onto the streets and did not demonstrate any consideration of the impact this decision would have on the safety of Americans,” committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced.

The ICE document contains a table that proposes “reduc[ing] invoiced daily population by 1,000 weekly.” Between February 22 and March 31st, this plan would drop the number of detainees from 30,748 to 25,748.

It isn’t clear how “criminal” these illegal immigrants are, but Napolitano’s statement suggested that they were low-risk and could be let out on supervised release. The Examiner’s Joel Gehrke brings up a point made by NRO’s Jim Geraghty, which showed that ‘low-risk’ could mean those who have been convicted of “simple assault, simple battery and child abuse.” I feel safer already.

In July 2009, the Department of Homeland Security set curbs on illegal alien arrests, meaning in practice that only the most serious criminals, such as violent offenders, would be apprehended and detained.

What does Republican Bob Goodlatte have to say about it?

“The decision to release detained aliens undermines the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to keep our homeland secure and instead makes our communities less safe and more vulnerable to crime,” Goodlatte said. “[R]egardless of sequestration, DHS actually has plenty of funding to pay for the detention of criminal aliens.  Unfortunately, it seems Administration officials are more interested in using sequestration to promote their political agenda than as an opportunity to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.”

There needs to be a heap of evidence to substantiate such charges that the White House is making this process as painful as possible to prevent any and all budget cuts. But between the criminal illegal immigrants being released, and an email recovered this morning by the Examiner regarding the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (who knew?), we’re seeing something more than bureaucratic foot-dragging on the sequester budget cuts.

It is the federal government’s job to promote the general welfare, and exacting damage after legislative due process has run its course, is at the very least irresponsible.

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