Rep. Grills ICE Director on Blaming Sequester for Detainee Release
In order to stay within budget the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released 2,228 detainees from detention. At the time ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christiansen said the people were low-risk or “noncriminal” and serious offenders remained detained. Yet, it appears some did not fit those categories and there are unanswered questions whether ICE could have cut other parts of the agency's budget.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said one man was detained in 2010 because he violated his probation from 2005 of assault, battery, and child abuse. Just last week ICE Director John Morton admitted 629 released immigrants were criminals and 1,599 were noncriminals. But Morton could not tell the House Judiciary Committee what made those individuals noncriminals. Goodlatte said the committee does “not know how many were charged with crimes but not yet convicted, are absconders, had existing orders of removal, or are criminal gang members.” Morton admitted he did not know if any of them were national security risks.
Claims of low risk to noncriminals contradict Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Morton’s previous claims that ICE only detains the “’worst of the worst’ illegal immigrants in light of their inability to detain, deport, and remove all the illegal immigrants the agency encounters based on a lack of financial resources.”
Representative Trey Gowdy remains skeptical that the Budget Control Act's sequester prompted the releases and wanted to know if ICE could have cut other expenditures from its budget. He suggested its agents cut travel, conferences, promotion materials, or government vehicles. He then told Morton he thought the release was political instead of monetary. Gowdy stated that ICE releases thousands of detainees every month.
“But you don’t blame it on sequestration, do you?” Gowdy asked Morton rhetorically. “You don’t blame it on sequestration when you release the others. It’s not part of this strategy to get the public fired up that mayhem is upon us that we’re closing the WH for tours, that we’re firing teachers in West Virginia, that we’re going to have to release level one aggravated felons because of sequestration.”