House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul is demanding answers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton regarding the release of illegal immigrants from detention centers.
In a letter addressed to Morton and carbon copied to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Wednesday, McCaul expresses concern about news that ICE has started releasing detained illegal immigrants, and in doing so is failing to enforce the law.
“This decision reflects the lack of resource prioritization within the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is indicative of the Department’s weak stance on national security,” McCaul wrote.
“Congress mandated and provided resources to maintain 34,000 bed spaces for illegal immigrant detainees,” he continued. “As of last week, ICE reported 30,773 spaces filled, in clear violation of statute. I am also concerned that these releases were undertaken without notification to the appropriate Congressional oversight committees.”
McCaul demands that by March 6 Morton explain how many individuals ICE has released, the number of detainees marked for release, a timeline of future release dates and where the detainees have and will be released.
For each individual detainee released, McCaul requested ICE to provide the reason they were detained, the amount of time, and what is being done to monitor them upon release.
This week ICE revealed that in preparation for budget cuts as a result of the sequester they have started to release detainees.
“Over the last week, ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said according to Fox News. “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.”