NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Even before the cuts take effect, at least one federal agency is already making money-saving moves. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released hundreds of illegal immigrants from detention centers across the country, including right here in Texas.
Cesar Laurenti is free… at least for now. “I was jumping for joy,” he said as he was released from Ice custody. “I was so happy to know I would be leaving.”
Laurenti is one of hundreds of undocumented immigrants released from detention centers around the country. He had been in federal custody more than four months, after walking thousands of miles across the desert, from Guatemala.
Speaking in Spanish, Laurenti told CBS 11 News, “I have fear but I want to comply with all of the laws. I want to live here well, go to courts and hope we can have immigration reform so I can stay here safely.”
ICE officials say they are releasing detainees because of looming “fiscal uncertainty.” That uncertainty is because some $85 billion in spending cuts to defense and domestic programs are scheduled to take effect this Friday.
Since incarcerating illegal immigrants facing deportation is costly, ICE initiated what it calls a ‘supervised release.’ Illegal immigrants will have to report in with authorities regularly and some could be required to wear an electronic monitoring device.
Laura Cardoza, a mother of three living in Dallas, spent 17 days in a detention center last year. “They would put in the truck and handcuff me,” she recalled. “I’m crying all day, because I miss my kid because she doesn’t have father to take care of her.”
Ralph Isenberg is an advocate for undocumented immigrants tangled in the system. He says the actions being taken by ICE point to a bigger problem surrounding immigration. “They’ve got hundreds of people detained that should have never been detained in the first place. This has nothing to do with budget cuts. This has to do with ICE’s past mistakes.”
ICE officials say the release will save millions of dollars, but U.S. Senator John Cornyn calls the mass release damaging. His office released a statement today that said, in part, “The administration has known their sequester was coming for more than a year and a half, so it’s implausible that doing this just three days before the deadline is anything other than the next step in the president’s manufactured crisis.”
ICE says the release will save millions of dollars.
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