Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Arizona initiated a firestorm with their decision to release approximately 300 illegal immigrant detainees in Arizona from federal custody on Wednesday. In addition to Arizona, the government released incarcerated illegal immigrants this week in California, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said this week that DHS is facing potential budget cuts of $4 billion. The government currently has about 33,000 beds for illegal immigrants in detention, at a cost of $164 a day.
"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,” ICE spokeswoman Amber Cargile said in a statement. “Over the last week, ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention."
Cargile stated that all those released would still be processed for deportation and will “not be let off the hook,” but that “priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders who pose a significant threat to public safety.”
All released detainees remain in deportation proceedings, and there are still about 2,280 people in immigration detention in Arizona.