World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. immigration agency defended its decision to release hundreds of illegal immigrants from detention because of budget cuts, saying on Thursday that the alternative would have been to reduce smuggling and child pornography investigations.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other government agencies have been forced to reduce spending after $85 billion in automatic budget cuts went into effect this month.
But Republicans said the Obama administration released "criminals" in order to pressure lawmakers into undoing the automatic budget cuts, which were enacted to reduce the country's debt.
"This was an ICE call. The White House did not make this decision," ICE Director John Morton said at a House of Representatives homeland security subcommittee hearing to examine the agency's actions.
Morton said the only way to meet the budget requirements was to release low-risk detainees and noted that it cost roughly $122 per day to keep someone in a detention center compared with about $7 per day to keep someone under surveillance through methods like electronic monitoring devices.
The other option would have been to reduce domestic investigations targeting human smugglers and child pornographers, Morton said.
"We have limited resources," he said.
ICE, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, has released 2,228 illegal immigrants from the detention centers because of the budget constraints.Last Mod: 15 Mart 2013, 09:24