The Following Story Appears on Politico.com
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security were unaware of Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s decision to release detainees until the agency announced it, administration officials said Wednesday.
“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,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.
Personnel at Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington were also unaware of the decision until the announcement was made, a department official told POLITICO.
ICE announced Tuesday that it has released several hundred undocumented immigrants in recent weeks as funding cuts loom. The detainees will instead be monitored in less expensive ways, the agency said.
Carney described those released as “low-risk, non-criminal detainees,” but several Republican members of Congress have spoken out against the releases.
“It’s very hard for me to believe that they can’t find cuts elsewhere in their agency,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told CBS News on Tuesday. “I frankly think this is outrageous…I can’t believe that they can’t find the kind of savings they need out of that department short of letting criminals go free.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on Wednesday asked ICE for details of the agency’s decision. “This decision reflects the lack of resource prioritization,” he wrote to ICE Director John Morton, “and is indicative of the Department [of Homeland Security]’s weak stance on national security.”