Rep. Goodlatte Blasts Obama for Releasing Illegal Aliens to ‘Promote His Political Agenda on Sequestration’

By Penny Starr | February 26, 2013 | 4:57pm EST

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) (AP Photo)

( – House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Tuesday that the Obama administration's decision to release hundreds of illegal aliens is “abhorrent,” and he charged that the move is not only political but dangerous.

“It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “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,” Goodlatte said. “Unfortunately, this administration has a poor record of enforcing our immigration laws and has routinely sought to undermine them.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released "several hundred" illegal aliens from detention centers across the country citing concern over reductions in federal spending that, under the Budget Control Act signed by President Obama in 2011, could take effect this Friday.

ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, described the illegal aliens as “low priority.”

In a statement sent to reporters on Tuesday, an ICE spokeswoman said that “possible sequestration” led them to release those illegal aliens.

"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,” ICE’s Gillian Christensen said. “Over the last week, ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention. (See email from Gillian Christensen, ICE Statement.pdf)

“All of these individuals remain in removal proceedings,” Christensen said. “Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety.”

“We’re getting reports from multiple detention centers in Texas, Florida and New Orleans where detainees who are low priority are being released in mass without bond,” Domenic Powell, a spokesman for the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an immigration advocacy group, was quoted as saying in a McClatchy Newspapers report on Monday.

On Monday, during a press briefing at the White House, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the sequester a threat to national security.

“Threats from terrorism and the need to respond and recover from natural disasters do not diminish because of budget cuts," Napolitano said. "Even in the current fiscal climate, we do not have the luxury of making significant reductions to our capabilities without significant impacts."

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