John Morton, the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, defended the decision his agency took of releasing 2,228 undocumented immigrants from different detention centers.
Morton spoke at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee and told members of the committee the detainees were released due to budget constraints and were put under alternative supervision, which equates to wearing an electronic monitor or requiring them to call in on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, Republicans said the release was a way for the White House to scare people over the budget cuts that took force on March 1 when lawmakers could not reach a bipartisan agreement to stop them.
Republican members of the committee pressured Director Morton on whether he or his agency received any type of pressure.
Morton denied repeatedly that ICE had been in contact with Homeland Security or the White House about releasing the undocumented immigrants prior to it happening.
A South Carolina Republican, Representative Trey Gowdy said from his vantage point it did look as if the decision had been a political one and not just a monetary one.
The cuts that took effect March 1 require a reduction of close to $300 million in the budget for the agency over the remaining seven months of this fiscal year, said Morton in his testimony to the committee.
He said when they released the detainees, the agency was careful to make sure the national security and the public’s safety were not compromised. The Chairman of the Committee Republican Bob Goodlatte from Virginia said some of the undocumented immigrants that had been released had convictions for simple assault or theft.