Hundreds Released From Immigration Detention to Save Government Money

But is at an act of reform or a political stunt by the Obama administration?

By Seth Freed Wessler Feb 27, 2013

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that it would release hundreds of immigrants from federal detention facilities to save money in anticipation of the coming sequestration. Federal immigration authorities said the government could not afford to lock up so many immigrants.

It’s not clear how many were released but reports have emerged from around the country that detainees were released from lockup in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, New York, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia.

Authorities were quick to note that none of those released posed a threat. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Gillian Christianson said in a statement that ICE’s "[p]riority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety."

But immigrant rights groups immediately asked why these detainees were held in the first place. Advocates have long said that the detention system is expensive and unfair, and add that community-based alternatives to detention are far cheaper.