U.S. moves immigrant detainees as budget cuts loom
February 26th, 2013
02:02 PM ET
1 year ago

U.S. moves immigrant detainees as budget cuts loom

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.


Filed under: Budget • Deficit • Immigration
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    robert warner

    The posts here demonstrate the new conservative mentality- they want something for nothing. They want to let draconian budget cuts take place but they also want the government to continue functioning as before the cuts. Newsflash for GOP; if you don't pay for government services and protections, you don't get them. Obama has the solution to the problem, a solution that the American public has repeatedly endorsed, that the GOP MUST agree to; a balance of cuts and tax increases.
    ------–
    Dude...

    A 2% cut in the federal government's budget is far from "draconian".

    For every dollar this government spends, we borrow 40 cents. That is a fact. IF you feel it's necessary for the federal government to spend $3.6 Trillion dollars per year, the goverment would have to almost DOUBLE the amount of taxes it currently collects. Now I suppose if you don't pay any federal income taxes, doubling zero still comes out to zero. But if you do... that, Sir, could be defined as "draconian".

    Oh, but that's right... you can get the money just from the rich. Let me know how that works out for you.

    February 27, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Wilson wrote:

    There are so many cuts that can be made that the average person will not even notice. Obama is choosing cuts to instill fear in the populace, to further his agenda. The "Great Media Controller," is now also the "Great Fearmonger."
    -------------------------
    The right wing has been most effective in projecting their own actions onto liberals. No one, I repeat, no one has been "choosing cuts" as the right accuses. By definition, the whole point of sequester is that no choices were made. The sequestration means across the board reductionns are made everywhere. The whole point was to compel the Congress to make the choices, which they have yet to do.

    The real face of the problem is that neither side wants to be the first to get specific, and announce their choices of where cuts can or should be made. For the right wing to blame Pres. Obama for "choosing cuts" that do the most harm to the economy is beyond misleading. It's dishonest and outright lies. Unfortunately, most of the public do not understand the sequetration and believe the right wing lies.

    February 27, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. Said US Citizen

    Governor Jan Brewer should authorize emergency funds to bus all of the released prisonors to Washington DC. It is their problem not Arizona's.

    February 27, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. Enough is Enough

    Obama should be tried for any crimes his illegal buddies commit while free. If he really wanred to save money he should have sent them all back past our southern border. Since illegals cost taxpayers over 110 billion a year and the sequested is for 85 billion we maybe on to something here.

    February 27, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  5. Fair is Fair

    "The real face of the problem is that neither side wants to be the first to get specific, and announce their choices of where cuts can or should be made. For the right wing to blame Pres. Obama for "choosing cuts" that do the most harm to the economy is beyond misleading. It's dishonest and outright lies."
    -----–
    So here's the million dollar question Rudy... are there ANY cuts that everyone can agree on? If so, why doesn't Pres. Obama go on tour touting those, instead of his daily gloom and doom? And if there's NO cuts that everyone can agree on, does that mean the federal government can only function by spending $3.6 Trillion per year, and the only way out of the problem is a near doubling of tax receipts?

    February 27, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    The "outrage" displayed by the Right is so disingenuous, since they ahve been screaming for this all along. They are getting their most cherished wish, and yet, as usual, because its not being administered by them, they are screaming that Obama is irresponsible, blah blah blah. Cut the corporate welfare, close the tax loopholes, and you would get the job done. After all the talk about unneeded subsidies and reforming the tx code, the Right dithers so they can avoid the heavy lifting. How well have their political and policy calculations worked lately? Remember the plan to make Obama a one-term president? They are leaving the decision-making to the crazy people who's districts are filled with the biggest group of takers from DC, they are getting their professed desire of cutting spending, and NOW they decide its a bad idea? Make up your mind, if you have any upper brain functions left.

    February 27, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Ancient Texan

    Obama is choosing cuts to punish the population in his fear campaign to embarrass the other party. He is selective on which laws he wants enforced and will use the cuts to his advantage.

    February 27, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Dude... A 2% cut in the federal government's budget is far from "draconian".
    ------------------
    Under most circumstances a 2% budget cut would not be considered draconian. However, when the cuts are made wearing a blindfold, without any regard as to what makes sense and what does not, then the cuts can be considered draconian. Please note that you have already questioned the wisdom of cutting the ICE budget, which I happen to agree with. Welcome to Draconia.

    February 27, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. robert warner

    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".

    February 27, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  10. Abram

    I lived on the border as a kid and it was porous then. I went back about 6 months ago to the same ranch and its still porous only dangerous now. It used to be that people coming across were friendly and just going for a better life. Now its drug smugglers with guns. Ranch workers have to pack heat to work now. Its sad. So if they let a few people go big deal. They say they call ICE now and it takes 3 hours for them to arrive. ICE is doing a poor job and its not going to get any worse with less money. I can't believe anyone would want to own land on the border now with all the litter, fence cutting and danger involved and our government could care less.

    February 27, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. rla

    Nepolitano just is currying favor with her "DEAR LEADER" How obviously vapid can this woman be???

    February 27, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. ghostriter

    Please. Since the election, congress has had time to hold several hearings on Benghazi, grill several cabinet possibilities, filibuster one possible just to postpone the inevitable for a few weeks and other time wasting practice. Of course, the mulitple weeks off didn't help.

    So now, after wasting all that time, republicans are out to pin this one on the president. Where have we seen this before?

    February 27, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. rla

    Oh people let's understand this only slows the rate of increase in the debt- The heavy lifting will come when congress actually wakes up and does what is right (and Painful) to correct the problem or we go bankrupt and the nation fails– Take your pick!

    February 27, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  14. Evergreen

    ICE said that some individuals are being placed in "less costly methods of supervision" and remain in the deportation process. This does not affect criminals that pose a significant threat to the public. If a department can save costs while protecting public safety, why is this creating such out rage? Maybe Boehner should get the facts before commenting.

    February 27, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  15. SmokenJoe

    Obama, what a mistake!!

    February 27, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  16. Jean

    I really hope that the Obama administration is not playing fast and loose with the safety of the American public making these ill-advised decisions on how what to cut to cover their portion of the upcoming budget "cuts". Looking at what some of these Federal Agencies (NTSB, Interior, Agriculture, FAA, Transportation, Education, etc.) are saying about where they plan to cut, put up against other items in their budgets that are either discretionary or woudl not impact the safety of the American people, it makes me think they are not making decisions based on what's in the best interests of the American people but what is in the best interests of the Obama administration and the party. I won't hold my breath waiting for NBC, CBS, ABC or CNN to do any analysis on this though.

    February 27, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  17. rs

    Wilson wrote:

    There are so many cuts that can be made that the average person will not even notice. Obama is choosing cuts to instill fear in the populace, to further his agenda. The "Great Media Controller," is now also the "Great Fearmonger."
    ____________________________
    You're right- however you fail to take into account that the REPUBLICAN Sequester bill wasn't written that way by House REPUBLICANS. No, infact the Sequester bill demands that every part of every agency account get trimmed. This means all grants (that support teachers, police, etc.), every funding account, employment, janitorial, everything gets cut. Get it? It isn't a pick and chose budget cutting, the REPUBLICAN Sequester Bill cuts EVERYTHING.
    Of course now the spineless GOP whines and moans that the Sequester Bill is Obama's (he thought it up!). Poor fools don't even have THAT right. The first Sequester Bill was passed in 1986.
    I'll give it to the GOP: When it comes to screwing things up- they really are supreme.
    @ days to the end-of-GOP count down.

    February 27, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair asked:

    So here's the million dollar question Rudy... are there ANY cuts that everyone can agree on? If so, why doesn't Pres. Obama go on tour touting those, instead of his daily gloom and doom? And if there's NO cuts that everyone can agree on, does that mean the federal government can only function by spending $3.6 Trillion per year, and the only way out of the problem is a near doubling of tax receipts?
    -----------------------
    The problem is less one of finding agreement than it is one of each side wanting saddle any agreement with stuff the other finds unpalatable. The merits of what should be agreeable and what's not is a whole other can of worns.

    As fars as the $3.6 trillion in annual spending goes, welcome to the real world. Liberals have been complaining about DEFICIT SPENDING, [remember that phrase?] since Bush took office in 2001. Did you know that federal spending as increased by 100%, doubling in size since 2001? Did you know that almost all of that ballooning growth occured during the Bush asministration, as year to year annual spending grew roughly 7-9% each and EVERY year he was in office?

    February 27, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. Jean

    I believe the republicans are preparing a bill that would allow flexibility so the agencies would be able to choose where the cuts would come from allowing them to cut at the more discretionary levels. Unfortunately Harry Reid and the democrats refuse to entertain that plan as they seem to want to make the "doomsday" cuts they are using to scare the American people in order to make the republicans look bad – again I sincerely hope the democrats are not playing dangerous politics with the safety of the American people when it comes to making these cuts responsibly and appropriately.

    February 27, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  20. critical thinking

    We borrow $.41 of every dollar we spend. So now we want to only borrow $.39 of every dollar we spend. People need to get a grip. If we can't make these low hanging fruit cuts, we are doomed.

    February 27, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  21. SteveB

    This is Obama's 2016 in action, watch the movie!

    February 27, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  22. Evergreen

    Maybe (when pigs fly) profitable corporations that have received tax payer support over the decades will step up and say "thank you" and "in these tough times we will no longer take government subsidies".

    February 27, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Jean

    I really hope that the Obama administration is not playing fast and loose with the safety of the American public making these ill-advised decisions on how what to cut to cover their portion of the upcoming budget "cuts".
    -----------------–
    Step away from internet. Go to bookstore. Buy dictionary. Find "sequester" and read it. The administration did "choose" to make spending cuts to ICE. The only choice that has been made has been the divisive choice by House Republicans' to take no action to prevent it, and then blame it all on Pres. Obama.

    February 27, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    The Real Tom Paine

    The "outrage" displayed by the Right is so disingenuous, since they ahve been screaming for this all along.
    --------------

    Yes they have. They simply don't want this credited to their side of the aisle even though as you said they've been screaming for it in what seems like forever. If my memory serves they didn't want to take any responsibility for what all went wrong back in 2007 either. Silly of them, I know.

    February 27, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. KJ

    I don't know what to think lately. All this fear mongering. First 800,000 people are going to lose their jobs, releasing of illegal immigrants, the list goes on. It wouldn't surprise me if he pushes all this to happen. Nothing good can come of it. He's going to incite civil unrest then enact Martial Law so he can get everything he wants.

    February 27, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
1 2 3