In what feels to us like a middle finger to those Republicans cheering on draconian "sequester" cuts to the federal budget following a congressional impasse, the Department of Homeland Security says undocumented immigrants are being released from detention centers across America.
The action is apparently in the name of saving money as the cuts loom come Friday:
But you can also read between those lines: Beefing up border security and punishing illegal entrants is a key rallying cry among some conservatives:
The Obama administration seems to be saying here that draconian budget cuts will affect some of the right's favorite causes, too.
Republicans have already interpreted the releases that way. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, states:
It's abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration. By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the Administration is needlessly endangering American lives. It also undermines our efforts to come together with the Administration and reform our nation's immigration laws. Unfortunately, this Administration has a poor record of enforcing our immigration laws and has routinely sought to undermine them.
Of course, a lot of the above is bullshit of the highest order:
Most of the immigrants here are innocent until proven guilty, illegally entering the United States is not a criminal matter but a misdemeanor one, and Obama has overseen the largest build-up of security along the border in American history.
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The immigrants in question -- "several hundred" of them -- will still remain under supervision (as in supervised release) and will still have to have their cases adjudicated.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Western Region officials sent sent the Weekly this highly massaged statement:
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. Over the last week, ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention. 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.