The heated politics of both budget cuts and immigration crossed paths, and got a bit hotter, when Roanoke congressman Bob Goodlatte’s House Judiciary Committee questioned the head of the Immigration and Customers Enforcement service Tuesday.
Goodlatte charged that a recent release of illegal immigrants from detention, which included more than 600 people who were facing criminal charges or had been convicted of offenses, “was more of a political calculation than a budgetary necessity.”
He said the ICE had enough money to continue holding the detainees and could have asked Congress for funds if it needed them.
“In addition, the sequester mandated a 5 percent cut at ICE but the agency released more than 5 percent of detained criminal and illegal immigrants,” Goodlatte said.
ICE Director John Morton told the committee that the service had been holding about 1,000 people more than its pre-sequestration budget allowed, adding that the sequestration cut the agency’s budget by $300 million over the next seven months. He said all releases were reviewed by law enforcement officers and that all remained under ICE’s supervision.