More Than 2000 Illegal Immigrants Released as Sequester Approached

More Than 2000 Illegal Immigrants Released

More Than 2000 Illegal Immigrants Released

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March 2 2013 3:09 PM

More Than 2000 Illegal Immigrants Released Due To Looming Budget Cuts

A Honduran immigration detainee, his feet shackled and shoes laceless as a security precaution, boards a deportation flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

It was more than just a few hundred. The Homeland Security Department released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation over the past few weeks as the sequester approached. The department even planned to release 3,000 more during March, according to the Associated Press. Earlier this week, the Obama administration acknowledged a “few hundred” illegal immigrants had been released as part of a broad effort to decrease costs.

Immigrants were released in Arizona, California, Georgia, and Texas, in a move that the White House insists it never approved. According to internal documents reviewed by the Associated Press, the goal was to reduce the number of people in Immigrants and Customs Enforcement jails from 30,733 to 25,748 by March 31. The program has been put on hold amid sharp criticism. ICE said it based its decision on the fact that it costs an average of $119 per day to keep someone locked up, while other methods of monitoring range between 17 cents to $17.78 per person per day, reports Reuters.  

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.