Sequester Deadline Leads to Release of ICE Detainees

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released hundreds of undocumented immigrants due to budget uncertainties.

By Hetty Chang and John Simerson
|  Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013  |  Updated 11:47 PM PDT
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released hundreds of undocumented immigrants due to budget uncertainties. Immigration advocate Dr. Julie Weise applauded the release of undocumented immigrants, but others disagree. Hetty Chang reports from East LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2013.

Hetty Chang

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released hundreds of undocumented immigrants due to budget uncertainties. Immigration advocate Dr. Julie Weise applauded the release of undocumented immigrants, but others disagree. Hetty Chang reports from East LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2013.

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While discussions of immigration reform continue on Capitol Hill, looming federal budget cuts proved, those who enforce immigration law, couldn't wait for resolution.

In an effort to get ahead of budget cuts, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, released several hundred undocumented immigrants from detention facilities across the country over the past week.

Officials would not specify exactly where.

“ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention," said Lori Haley, an ICE spokeswoman, in a statement. "Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety.”

Immigration advocates like Julie Weise applaud the release of undocumented immigrants.

“If they're law abiding citizens, other than they drove without a driver’s license, or other than the fact that they are here without status, why are they in detention?” Weise said.

Others feel being undocumented is breaking the law.

“A lot of those people go to our local resources,” said Rose, an East LA resident, who identified herself only by her first name. “I'm not saying everybody.”

Those on both sides of the debate agree detaining the undocumented is a strain on resources.

According to the National Immigration Forum, it costs up to $165 per day per detainee.

“You really have a lot waste quite frankly,” Weise said.

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