Updated:  

The director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement admitted today during a House appropriations subcommittee hearing that the Obama administration did indeed release thousands of illegal aliens from immigration jails in February, some of whom were categorized as the highest level criminal offenders. 

ICE director John Morton’s testimony today contradicted what Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano had been saying about the numbers of detainees released.

Morton told Congress today that the 2,228 releases were made on “solely budgetary reasons” due to the Sequester order from President Obama.  However, the releases started before the Sequester was signed into law.   Morton also said that the decision to release the illegal aliens was not discussed with the White House or Napolitano prior to the actions.  

“We were trying to live within the budget that Congress had provided us,” said Morton.  “This was not a White House call.  I take full responsibility.”

On March 1st, the Associated Press broke the story that at least 2,000 releases had taken place and 3,000 more releases were planned for the upcoming month.  On March 4th, Napolitano called the story “not really accurate” and said it was only hundreds, not thousands, of releases due to budget reasons. 

We now know that 10 of the illegal aliens released were considered the highest level of offender, four of whom have since been put back into detention. 

The other detainee releases still face deportation in the future and are required to appear for upcoming court hearings.   Morton said that most of the aliens were released in Texas.   

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