Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is releasing "several hundred" people out of detention facilities to other "less costly" forms of supervision because of pending forced budget cuts, the agency said on Tuesday.
Gillian Christensen, a customs enforcement spokeswoman, said the cases were reviewed over the past week as part of agency preparations for $85 billion government-wide cuts due to take effect on Friday absent congressional action to avert them.
"As fiscal uncertainty remains over the continuing resolution and possible sequestration, ICE has reviewed its detained population to ensure detention levels stay within ICE's current budget," she said in a statement.
"ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention. All of these individuals remain in removal proceedings. Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety," she said.
That move prompted an incredulous reaction from House Speaker John Boehner, who said on CBS the release of detainees was “outrageous.”
"This is very hard for me to believe, that they can't find cuts elsewhere in their agency,” Boehner said, adding: “I'm looking for more facts but 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."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican and a vocal critic of President Barack Obama, called the move "pure political posturing and the height of absurdity."
Republican leaders have criticized Obama administration warnings as scare tactics, but also said the cuts would be bad policy and should be changed. Only rigid fiscal conservatives have backed the concept of mandatory deep spending cuts as a painful first step of deficit reduction.
Obama said on Tuesday in Newport News, Virginia, that the spending cuts are a "self-inflicted wound" that do not have to occur. He called on Congress to reach an agreement to avert the harshest impacts.
Separately on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder warned the spending cuts, also called sequestration, would leave Americans "less safe."
"We'll do the best that we can to minimize the harm that actually occurs as a result of the sequestration, but the reality is there is going to be harm," Holder told the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington.
Holder had barely finished his remarks when the leading Republican on the committee that oversees the Justice Department sent Holder a sharply critical letter about the agency's plans.
Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, cited a recent Holder letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee outlining operational cuts in spending for the FBI and other agencies totaling about $1.6 billion.
CNN's Kevin Liptak, Terry Frieden and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.
1. This Sequester Bill was written and passed by the House GOP.
2. The Sequester Bill demands that every part of every budget gets cut whether that account is important or not.
3. The Sequester Bill was purposely written that way to make its' results that much more painful.
4.The GOP is now too spineless to undo the Bill they wrote and voted into place, and too ideologically damaged to negotiate.
5. They bleat "it was Obama's idea", yet the first Sequester Bill was passed in 1986 (under Reagan).
6. Now, the GOP in Congress wants the President of the United States to sift through the massive U.S. Budget, and make precise cuts instead of their blunt one.
7. OOOOps! The House GOP didn't actually pass a budget!
2 days to the end of the GOP.
It's about time the GOP stand up to the thugs in office today. Obama wants everything his way but doesn't want to sacrifice any cuts. In the meantime our country is in major debt, no jobs, high taxes, and headed for another depression.
Obama needs to step down his worthless administration has plummeted our country in probably the worst state it has ever been in. Obama Definition: A single child that always got his way or he would throw a fit.
Fair is Fair, you don't understand the problem. Much of the budget is off limits for the cuts. While I've heard various real estimates, it seems that, because of the targeted nature of the sequestration, the cuts to defense are actually 10%. The other areas of the budget, again because of the targeted nature of the sequestration, are similar. If you want law enforcement, such as the subject immigrant detentions, you have to pay for them. If you cut the budget indiscriminately, as the sequestration does, problems like this arise. Again, you TeaParty people need to realize that there is no free lunch. Tell your GOP legislaters to stop protecting their rich friends from paying their fair share of taxes and, instead, legislate for the good of the country. BTW, you can call me Robert, Bob or Mr. Warner, but my name is not "Dude".
Dear Robert, Bob, or Mr. Warner,
As the left has always said, "The first way out of a hole is o stop digging". So to stop digging (i.e. adding to the debt), you have to cut or raise taxes. The left seems to abhor any cuts whatsoever, so why are they not proposing a doubling of taxes?