U.S. official says security not compromised by illegal immigrants' release

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:37pm EDT

Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton speaks during a news conference at the Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse in New York December 11, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton speaks during a news conference at the Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse in New York December 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The release of illegal immigrants from U.S. detention due to budget concerns was undertaken with care to ensure that security was not compromised, the head of the immigration enforcement agency said on Tuesday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, defended his agency's decision last month to release 2,228 illegal immigrants from detention centers because of budget constraints. They were placed on alternative supervision such as being required to call in regularly or wear an electronic monitor.

Republicans charged that the release was part of scare tactics used by President Barack Obama's administration over mandatory budget cuts, and they pressed Morton on whether his agency had received any pressure.

Morton repeatedly denied that his agency had spoken with officials from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security about the decision to release the illegal immigrants before it happened.

"From this vantage point it does look like the decision to release detainees was a political determination and not a monetary determination," said Representative Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina.

Mandatory budget cuts government-wide, known as sequestration, began on March 1, and the government has also been operating on a continuing resolution which funds agencies until March 27.

The cuts require a nearly $300 million reduction in the agency's budget over the seven remaining months of the fiscal year, Morton said in testimony to the hearing.

"In reducing detention levels, we took careful steps to ensure that national security and public safety were not compromised by the releases," he said.

Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, said some of the immigrants released had been convicted or charged with theft or simple assault.

"Irresponsible decisions to release detained illegal immigrants unreasonably and unnecessarily put the public at risk," Goodlatte said in his opening statement.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (4)
Globalman wrote:
This makes little sense to me as these individuals broke federal law. Yet the President and his coharts in Congress wish to remove our Second amendment rights, tax us for all of the government waste, and force people to buy health insrance. I have not felt this uncomfortable and worried about our government since the sixties.

Mar 19, 2013 2:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bobber1956 wrote:
Do you really expect him to admit it IS. Just by considering it necessary to have a press conference to expressly say it is not…how stupid! LIARS!

Have a press conference and explain/justify THIS!

Obama buys 140 million dollars of food
DHS buys 7,000 fully automatic rifles
DHS buys 1.6 billion rounds of ammo
DHS buys 2,700 armored vehicles
DHS releases 2000 CRIMINAL illegal immigrants in FEB
DHS is scheduled to release 3000 CRIMINAL illegal immigrants in March
Congress pushes for gun control in US-considers releasing gun registration info of US gun owners to Mexico.

Yeah, we are watching and paying attention.

Mar 19, 2013 4:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bobber1956 wrote:
MOST of us are worried. That is good as long as we stay awake and keep our wits.

Mar 19, 2013 4:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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