White House was 'unaware' of immigration detainee release
February 27th, 2013
12:29 PM ET
1 year 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. Nametodd harrison

    Rudy,

    The Republican controlled House has passed two bills to deal with sequestration... whether you agree with their alternatives or not... they have tried to deal with this... you are simply wrong.

    The Democratic controlled Senate have not passed a single bill to address this... they have ownership in this as well.

    February 27, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. JJ

    Disgusting act letting these known criminals (more crime than simply sneaking into the USA) walk free. I hope that these criminal illegal invaders make a run for the border rather than gang-bang and create mayhem in the USA.

    February 27, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. denny

    An impeachable offense – releasing criminals into the populace. They are criminals and we are now unsafe. Impeach!

    February 27, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    So why is the GOPT so insistent on forcing these domestics cuts??? Well, because they went overboard with their spending during the Bush administration.

    For example...

    The Clinton surplus they squandered – $230 Billion
    The Iraq and Afghan wars – $5.5 Trillion
    The Bush Prescription Drug Program – $1Trillion
    The Bush TARP Bailout that failing Wall Street Banks used to give out large bonuses to their partying CEOs – $700 Billion

    Can anyone spare $85 Billion for the American people please???

    February 27, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Anonymous wrote:

    Is that called deportation?
    ----------------
    Actually, it is called giving them the opportunity for self-deportation.

    February 27, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. patrick hartnett

    Sniffit – there only crime is coming here illegaly? You are so sadly mistaken and you must not live in a border state. How about adding identity theft and fraud to the list of crimes they've committed? The illegals have to steal and identity or make up a social security number to work....otherwise they are just coming here , popping out a baby and then living off our welfare system.....sniffit....do some research before allowing yourself to make those kinds of statements

    February 27, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. B

    Next up, Obama orders all oil wells to be lit on fire.

    February 27, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Releasing felons is not a reaction to projected budget cuts. It is a tactic

    February 27, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Jim1010

    There were more than 400 released in Houston, Texas alone. The actual number is in the thousands or tens of thousands, not "hundreds"

    February 27, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. StuartE58

    Cutting highly visible services is a political ploy to justify increasing taxes. Wiki: The Washington Monument syndrome, also known as the Mount Rushmore Syndrome, or the firemen first principle, is a political tactic used in the United States by government agencies when faced with budget cuts. The tactic entails cutting the most visible or appreciated service provided by the government, from popular services such as national parks and libraries to valued public employees such as teachers and firefighters. Americans want reductions in waste, in military spending for hardware and bases not wanted by the Pentagon, and cuts to the benifites of the Political elite. Instead they will continue to cut into items we do support to justify their power over us.

    February 27, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. Mac

    White house didnt know about this release? I wonder who is at the helm of this ship, didnt know about Fast & Furios didnt know about the release of the illeagle "non-criminal detainees", the attack on one of our embasy's and the murder of US citizens there.
    I guess that Ignorance is Bliss, oh well.

    February 27, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Freedom205

    Wait . .. . Obama, just blame Bush . . .. or, blame the House GOP . .. . .or, have the ICE Director that you appointed take the fall . .. . either way, the liberal media will back you and the American sheeples will still oogle over you while Hollywood falls over themselves at what pricy outfit Michelle is wearing.

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

    @denny

    Hehe. An impeachable offense??? Hehe. Thanlks for the laugh. But in other news, GWB and cabinet are still awaiting trial for war crimes against humanity for their illegitimate Iraqi war. Please stay tuned.

    February 27, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Nametodd harrison

    Rudy,

    The Republican controlled House has passed two bills to deal with sequestration... whether you agree with their alternatives or not... they have tried to deal with this... you are simply wrong.

    The Democratic controlled Senate have not passed a single bill to address this... they have ownership in this as well.
    -----------------
    Read the Constitution. The bills that were passed last year by the 112th Congress are null and void. Boehner and anyone else who repeats your argument about the House having already passed bills is either willfully deceptive with the facts, or totally ignorant of the facts.

    The 113th House needs to pass new ones. The Tea Party House passed a bills last year that amounted to "tactical votes", desigend to be ridiculously unpalatable just so that they could later make your exact false talking point. Amending the repeal of health care reform and other nonsense onto a sequestration bill while denying that such amendments have been added is simply disingenious and being totally dishonest with the public. They deserve better.

    February 27, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Steve

    Someone needs to join the ranks of the unemployed.

    February 27, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. jack johnson

    There is no differance releaseing them than States releaseing prisoners win their budget is compromzed, or prisons overfilled. Do they impeach governors when they do it? If Obama wanted to He could pardon them like all other presidents do.

    February 27, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Free Man in Texas

    Since you don't speak the native language, you have two options...

    Option one: stay and be deported.
    Option two: be a good sport and self deport.

    February 27, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. paul

    President Obama and Michele were too busy planning the next golf round with Tiger and her next oscar presentation to be concerned with the performance of our federal agencies. Real leaders step up and take responsibility rather than simply saying...I didn't know!....not my fault! What a poser!

    February 27, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    That is so pathetic, it is incredible. Isn't anyone in charge of this corrupt government?

    February 27, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. Tim

    The only thing Obama has claimed responsibility for is killing Bin Laden. Nothing will get solved there is no ownership no one is responsible, more of the blame game.

    February 27, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @B

    No, the domestic terrorist group better known as the teabags already did that in the Guld of Mexico two years ago to commemorate the one year anniversary of the historic Affordable Care Act.

    February 27, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Nametodd harrison

    Blah Blah,

    Your war numbers are wrong... according to the CBO, as of Sept 2012 the cost was $1.38 Trillion. As bad as Bush was... Obama spends nearly as much in a yearly deficit... as 10 years of 2 wars. As painful as this may/may not be... spending cuts need to happen. Both parties own this. No country has ever taxed itself to prosperity...

    February 27, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. amanda

    why are they still here, eating our food, living, all be it in a cell, in our country? i think they should be fingerprinted, id'd and sent back to where ever they came from. i dont want other countries degenerate criminals living in our country. we have enough of our own criminals to deal with, want to cut costs? mail them all back to their country of origin and bar them from ever coming back. bar all of them from coming in, i dont care, all the same to me. its hard enough to find a job here without an extra few thousand illegals in my way. also since when does this country cater to them? there are free clinics in america that only help people without a social security number. that means they dont belong here! meanwhile, when i get sick i have to pay 5000 dollars or more to get treatment. how is that fair?

    February 27, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Adevarul

    Ahhh...Carney. You know this clown is lying if you just look for his lips to move. At every major fiasco, the WH defense is ...duh, we didn't know. Guns on the border, our murdered Diplomats (who asked for more security), illegals released. etc. etc. WH=house of cards Carney=jester

    February 27, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. theala

    "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."

    Because they aren't criminals, you moron. Immigration violations are CIVIL offenses, not criminal. You're a lawyer, Boehner, look it up!

    It costs a small fortune to feed and house these non violent offenders. It's not worth it.

    February 27, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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