Sequester cuts mean released illegal immigrants; sheriff wants answers

March 1, 2013 5:21:56 AM PST
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says he wants answers from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the release of hundreds of illegal immigrants from custody.

Babeu released copies of a letter he sent Thursday to Napolitano, who's a former Arizona governor. He's requesting "detailed information about the identity, criminal history and threat assessment on every single criminal" released so far.

Babeu claims he's been denied that information so far from DHS officials in Arizona. Federal officials say the immigrants facing deportation were released from immigration jails due to looming budget cuts. They also were categorized as "low-risk, non-criminal detainees."

"It's laughable, quite honestly. We all have differences of opinion about the 11 million illegals here in the United States. What do we do? Do we have a path to citizenship, outright amnesty citizenship or no citizenship?" Babeu said. "But we've all agreed up until this release, that 34,000 of that 11 million that we identify as the most serious criminal offenders, that they are to be identified, imprisoned, on their way to deportation. Even Secretary Napolitano and President Obama said these people should be deported. And now we're hearing a completely different story."

ICE released the detainees into cheaper forms of supervision, such as using ankle monitors and weekly check-ins.

"To think that somehow we can provide supervised release on people who have no incentive to report in to the authorities, no incentive to comply with their release, they will cut their ankle bracelet because what's the worst that can happen? You're going to deport them? That's the reality of this," Babeu said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.