ICE Plans to Release Several Hundred Detained Foreign Nationals

76714_behind_bars.jpgThe U.S. federal government is preparing to address its impending forced budget cuts, referred to as sequestration, which amount to approximately $85 million worth of cuts across several government agencies. Citing these future cuts, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for identifying and detaining foreign nationals who are subject to deportation, has decided to release several hundred foreign national detainees from ICE custody. Those who are released will remain subject to a "supervised released" program and their deportation proceedings will remain ongoing.

The stated goal of these releases is to alleviate the skyrocketing costs of detention, costs which in the face of sequestration, the agency states it will no longer be able to bear. ICE posits that it costs approximately $165 per person, per day, to detain foreign nationals. These costs include providing food to detainees, maintaining detention centers, and paying staff salaries. A nonprofit organization called the National Immigration Forum estimates that utilizing the supervised release program, which normally consists of an electronic ankle bracelet and regular mandatory check-ins with ICE officials, will cost less than one tenth of regular detention.

According to CNN, ICE employees made the decision to place detainees in supervised release on their own initiative, and the agency did not consult the Obama administration regarding this option. Although ICE has not provided the precise number of detainees to be released, the agency anticipates that it will be "several hundred" of the approximately 30,700 foreign nationals who are currently detained at the 250 ICE detention centers all around the country.

ICE officials have been reviewing the case files of all detainees, and the foreign nationals who are selected for supervised release are low-risk offenders or those with no criminal records at all. ICE states that any foreign national with a serious criminal record, or who is perceived as a national security threat or member of a terrorist group, remains a high priority case for quick deportation and will not be released. Presently ICE is choosing to not reveal the locations of released detainees, but advocacy groups are reporting that detainees have been released from detention centers in Alabama, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, New York, and Arizona.

The ICE decision has been met with praise by immigration advocates - who have long favored the supervised release measure - and with anger by immigration opponents. Opponents criticize the move as politically motivated and dangerous, and claim that the supervised release decision will undermine Congress's overall efforts to reach comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Deportation proceedings are very serious and the outcome of these proceedings will have long-lasting consequences for the foreign national and likely his or her family. At the Gee Law Firm, we understand and appreciate the importance in addressing deportation issues as quickly and successfully as possible. Contact our office today at 650-293-0270 to discuss your case with one of our skilled attorneys.

Additional Blog Posts

Senate Unveils Initial Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2013
President Obama Signs Rare Private Immigration Bill, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 8, 2013

Immigration Reform / by Michelle Gee