The White House on Wednesday said it did not approve the release this week of hundreds of illegal immigrants being held in detention centers, as Republicans turned up the heat on the budget-cutting move ahead of the sequester.
White House spokesman Jay Carney and a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official said the decision by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was not signed off on by the administration, but was made by career officials.
“This was a decision made by career officials at ICE, without any input from the White House, as a result of fiscal uncertainty over the continuing resolution, as well as possible sequester,” said Carney at Wednesday’s press briefing.Republicans have begun hammering the administration for answers as to why earlier this week ICE released “several hundred” illegal immigrants into a supervised monitoring program.
An ICE spokeswoman said the move, which targeted only illegal immigrants deemed to be a low public safety risk, was in preparation for the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, widely expected to go into effect on Friday, which would limit the number of detainees ICE could pay to house.
A DHS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Hill on Wednesday that career detention facility administrators release low-risk illegal immigrants into a less costly supervision program on a nearly daily basis. Administrators make the call based on their budgetary and infrastructure constraints, without the need for sign-off approval from administration officials, the official said.
But House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and other top Republicans want more answers on the move, which Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called “outrageous.”
On Wednesday, McCaul pressed ICE