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Low Level ICE Detainee Release Spurs Questions as to Why They Were Detained in the First Place. Is it Right to Release Them?

Tobias Titz, Getty Images
Tobias Titz, Getty Images

As part of the sequester, the Department of Homeland Security has ordered the release of approximately 5 thousand illegal immigrants referred to as “low risk” or “low level.”

Immigrant advocates are wondering why, in the first place, they were detained.
There’s an easy answer to that.

But I’ll share it with you later.

According to this:

As immigrant detainees trickled out of corrections facilities in New Jersey, advocate groups say the releases raise critical questions of whether immigrants should have ever been detained at all.

Earlier this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, confirmed that “several hundred” detainees who are noncriminal or low-risk offenders were released from facilities around the U.S. and blamed the impending sequester due to take effect Monday.

“Now they’re admitting there isn’t any reason to hold these hundreds of people they’ve let go,” said Kathy O’Leary, vice president of IRATE and member of Pax Christi NJ.

About 50 detainees were reportedly freed from the Hudson and Bergen county jails, according to immigrant advocate groups.

Roughly 2,300 immigrant detainees are held in seven facilities in New Jersey, which advocates like Alix Nguefack of the American Friends Service Committee have fought to free from detention while awaiting deportation hearings.

But despite being released, the immigrants still face the looming threat of deportation.

”All of these individuals remain in removal proceedings,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian M. Christensen said in a statement.

With the nationally debated sequestration reaching its Friday deadline, O’Leary hopes more ICE detainees will be released, as advocates use the sequester cuts as an opportunity to gain traction on immigration reform.

So far roughly 30 detainees have been released from the Hudson County jail in Kearny and another 20 from the Bergen County jail in Hackensack, said Rosa Santana, visitation program coordinator for IRATE and First Friends, an immigrant advocacy group in Elizabeth.

The federal government houses roughly 30,000 immigrant detainees in local jails and private facilities across the U.S. and those contracts can mean multi-million dollar deals for local governments and private contractors.

“Even though we are happy,” said Carlos Rojas, co-founder and organizer with the New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, “it’s really a shame to see it’s happening because of an economic crisis, not because it’s a moral and right thing to do.”
Anti-(illegal)immigrant advocates bristled at the mass release.

“I think it’s absolutely despicable,” said Gayle Kesselman, president of the New Jersey Citizens for Immigration Control based in Carlstadt.

“The first responsibility of the federal government is to protect our borders and not endanger the safety of our citizens. I think this is being done by the administration to prove a political point,” she added.

For Kesselman, the release of ICE detainees chiefly highlights a problem with delayed deportation proceedings, which can take years, she said. Also, she doesn’t believe the argument that releasing immigrant detainees is a legitimate solution.

If supervised release is a valid and responsible way to save money, they would have done it a long time ago,” she said today.

First of all, our government rarely finds responsible ways to save money.

But just to go back to the point raised by Rojas, who said “it’s really a shame to see it’s happening because of an economic crisis, not because it’s a moral and right thing to do.”

That’s not the reason either.

The reason is because the administration is using the detainee release to force Congress to go along with the tax increases they want.

Illegal immigrant detainees are being used as the political football.

And what’s more immoral or irresponsible than that?

Should they be let out? No!

What say you?

Should low level illegal immigrants have been let out of detention?

Yes, they’re low level and pose no security risk

No, their status is still “illegal”.

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