White House was 'unaware' of immigration detainee release
February 27th, 2013
12:29 PM ET
2 years ago

White House was 'unaware' of immigration detainee release

(CNN) – Neither the White House nor the Homeland Security Department headquarters were made aware of the Immigration Customs and Enforcement decision to release detainees ahead of the pending forced spending cuts, an administration official said Wednesday.

Separately, at a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the decision was made by ICE "without any input from the White House."

"The agency released these low-risk, non-criminal detainees under a less-expensive form of monitoring to ensure detention levels stayed within ICE's overall budget," he said.

The agency announced Tuesday that it was releasing "several hundred" people out of detention facilities to other "less costly" forms of supervision because of the automatic across-the-board spending reductions set to begin Friday.

Gillian Christensen, a customs enforcement spokeswoman, said the cases were reviewed over the past week as part of agency preparations for the government-wide cuts, set to total $85 billion in the next seven months.

"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.

"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 added.

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, Republican and sharp critic of many Obama administration immigration actions, said in an interview on Fox News that the release is "unexplainable" and "unbelievable."

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.

The immigration service also denied that the Homeland Security official responsible for immigration enforcement had stepped down from his post over the situation, calling one report "inaccurate and misleading."

That official, ICE spokeswoman Christensen said in a statement, "announced several weeks ago to ICE senior leadership that he planned to retire after 40 years in federal service and 6 years at ICE. As planned, and as shared with ICE staff weeks ago, Mr. Mead will retire at the end of April."

– CNN's Jessica Yellin, Jim Acosta, Kevin Liptak, Terry Frieden and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.


Filed under: Debt • Deficit • Immigration • White House
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Moose

    More ineptness, the new norm !!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I say release the high risk ones too...that is, in red states.

    February 27, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    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.
    ----------------------–
    And so far the "rigid fiscal conservatives" are winning the battle within the GOP, as evidenced by the fact that the Tea Party controlled House has yet to vote one, much less pass, even one bill addressing the redistribution of sequestration cuts. The 112th House punted on the task, while the new 113th House has thus far completely ignored the issue.

    February 27, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Keith

    Articles I've read today in relation to this state that the Department of Homeland Security gave the orders for such. Your article claims they were unaware. Who is lying? Homeland Security or CNN?

    February 27, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    White House was 'unaware' of immigration detainee release...
    LOL !!! LOL !!! !!! LOL !!! !!! !!!

    "I" will close GITMO

    "I" will veto ALL earmarks

    "I" will CUT the deficit it half

    "I" will make the sea jump back

    "I" will get un-employment under 5%

    "I" will go line by line through the budget and cut

    "I" will end Red State – Blue State and just have United States

    "I" will have the most transparent administration in American history

    “I” will support and defend The Constitution of the United States of America

    FORWARD
    >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> >>>
    To " T R U T H " in government !!!

    February 27, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. B

    Why would they go to a red state when the felons can be free and lazy in a blue state?

    February 27, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. robert jay

    Well why haven't the republicans started a "bengahzi" type invetsigation yet? Good grief how can anything happen that is not the presidents fault – Where is Graham ? MConnel? Boehner ? Cantor/ when you need them = by golly they'll get to the bottom of this- this can't be right and the president is the perfect target – so as republicans its our duty to spend a zillion or so invetsigating this and wasting probably four or five years on anyway – Thank the lord for republicans being on watch- what would be without them? RIGHT!

    February 27, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Unaware??? How come Big Sis Napolitano isn't talking to her boss?

    February 27, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. B

    I can see the cnn headlines already, "GUN used in murder", but nowhere in the story will it say Obama released these felons to scare the public.

    February 27, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. b

    this isn't surprising giving Obama's scare campaign. I suspect they are going to allow a terrorist attack to happen in the coming days so they can blame it on a lack of funds. Manufactured crisis are the hallmark of the Obama presidency.

    February 27, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Serious Malak

    "Should we cut overtime, do some temporary layoffs, cancel the summer BBQ, or release some prisoners?" – ICE management

    February 27, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Mete Krop

    Amazing ,this country is turned out to be among a third world countiries with the GOP's sequstration stuff.

    February 27, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Keith

    Articles I've read today in relation to this state that the Department of Homeland Security gave the orders for such. Your article claims they were unaware. Who is lying? Homeland Security or CNN?
    --------------
    Seeing how you have not named your alternate sources......
    Seeing how you have escalated the tone with your provacative choice of the word "lying".....
    Seeing how I'm taking all of the above into account, I will conclude that it is YOU who is lying.

    February 27, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. rs

    The White House cannot be aware of the the specific impacts of an across-the-board budget cut that hist each and every agency's accounts, funds, grants and personnel- only the people who WROTE the bill (House GOPpers) could have forseen that.

    February 27, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. jeremy

    Sounds like some ICE and DHS management cleanup is in order – budget problem solved.

    February 27, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "short of letting criminals go free."

    1. Their only crim is coming here illegally. They otherwise have not committed crimes that would justify calling them criminals.

    2. They are not going "free." They are monitored and ketp track of and can be scooped up for deportation once the decision is made whether to do so or not. Illegal immigrants are not magically capable of slipping the justice system's tether better than regular citizen criminals who get put on probation etc.

    "Articles I've read today in relation to this state that the Department of Homeland Security gave the orders for such. Your article claims they were unaware. Who is lying? Homeland Security or CNN?"

    Not a single article I've seen says that. Stop looking at the conspiracy sites and blogs and considering them "news." That includes Faux.

    February 27, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    Next up, some radicalized conservative nutjob like Louis "Terror Babies" Gomhert will claim that they were all handed a gun on their way out of the detention center.

    February 27, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. NoresmanIowa

    The W.H. is always willing to blame someone else. they need to start to lead. Both parties are the cause of this mess and they both need to work toghter to fix it. We need to cut speanding, but we do need to rise a little more taxes.
    Gee how about removing the SSN tax limit like they have on Medicare. That would be a big help wiht the SSN issue. You would keep the limit of how much you can pull out, but there should be no limit on how much you put in.
    Not that hard to figure out.

    February 27, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. patrick hartnett

    They are releasing the detainees to a different "form of supervision".....lol.....like what? Once they are out of jail they will scurry back and forth across the border just as they do now. How are they going to supervise them? Expect them to show up to a probation officer?....lol.....Nappy napolitano is useless and always has been. She said security worked when the shoe bomber got over the USA before apprehended....and that is what she calls "working"?.....

    February 27, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. Rondo

    Oh, and we should believe the white house????

    February 27, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. patrick hartnett

    Napolitano also said the border was secure about a year and a half ago while still acknowledging thousands were coming across daily......then how is the border secured? I guess we have different definitions of "secured"...

    February 27, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. dan

    It is beginning to amaze me at how much goes on in the US thatthe whitehouse staff claims no knowledge of. Obama has got to hire someone that has a thought about something other than campaigning and planning trips.

    February 27, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    In an earlier article, John Boehner said the release of detainees was outrageous. Sir, you stepping in the way of this administration's efforts to move the country forward for four years with your teabags selfishness and blatant arrogance is outrageous. And meanwhile, Ms Brewer said the move to release detainees was pure political. Ma'am, everything your GOPT party has done for the past four years has been totally and solely political including your current effors to force these cuts that's only going to affect the recovery process and struggling Americans.

    February 27, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. Mike

    Keith: "Articles I've read today in relation to this state that the Department of Homeland Security gave the orders for such. Your article claims they were unaware. Who is lying? Homeland Security or CNN?"
    Probably neither...from CNN: "Neither the White House nor the Homeland Security Department headquarters were made aware". So Homeland Security HQ didn't know...doesn't mean somebody down the chain didn't approve it. Happens all the time.

    February 27, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Is that called deportation?

    February 27, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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