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ICE releases hundreds from detention centers

With all of the talk about severe budget cuts, otherwise known as the sequester, not many people would associate a sense of relief with the looming economic scenarios that could take effect on March 1. But for immigrants throughout the country, relief is exactly what a possible sequester has led to.

Hundreds of detainees have been released in the last several days, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement cited the "limited detention resources in the current fiscal climate" as the reason. Advocates for immigrants' rights have reported that detention centers, including those in Hudson, New Jersey, and New York, have placed hundreds of people on supervised release.

The numbers for such a release are said to be unprecedented.

Detainees are not freed of their legal obligations, however. Their cases will remain in the system, and detainees still have to check in with the appropriate officials. Many detainees are also being monitored with special equipment.

The threat of the sequester isn't the only thing that led to the detainees' release. Advocates have been urging the government for years to use a more efficient and less expensive approach to immigrant detention. One estimation made by the National Immigration Forum put the daily cost of jailing a detainee at roughly $150, while other methods of detention could cost as little as 30 cents.

Aside from the funding issue, many immigrants have been detained on administrative violations, which are far less serious than some criminal charges that lead to detention.

United We Dream leader Carolina Canizales put it this way: "It shouldn't take a manufactured crisis in Washington to prompt our immigration agencies to actually take steps towards using government resources wisely or keeping families together."

Anyone who interested in learning more about immigration detention and family immigration is encouraged to visit our Staten Island immigration detention site. Our firm helps families and individuals achieve a change in immigration status.

Source: The New York Times, "Wave of Immigrants Released Ahead of Automatic Budget Cuts," Kirk Semple, Feb. 26, 2013

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