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Activists say immigration releases highlight ‘aggressive, reckless enforcement system’

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The budget-related release of undocumented immigrants from federal detention centers in at least three states has underscored the problem with the government’s enforcement of immigration policy, an activist group told The Raw Story.

“Every day I get calls from families being torn apart with a loved one about to be deported,” Carolina Canizales from the advocacy group United We Dream said in an email sent Monday night. “The reports that ICE field offices are releasing some men and women in detention just sheds a light on the aggressive, reckless enforcement system that’s been ramping up for years.”

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McClatchy Newspapers reported on Monday that an unspecified number of immigrants previously booked for “low-priority” offenses were released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in Texas, Florida and Louisiana in advance of impending budget cuts caused by the so-called budget sequester.

“ICE has directed field offices to review the detained population to ensure it is in line with available funding,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said on Monday. “As a result of this review, a number of detained aliens have been released around the country and placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release.”

Christensen said that the cases against those released have not been dropped, and that they would still be deported if mandated by an immigration judge.

The releases were ordered in advance of a series of cuts agreed upon by lawmakers in 2011 that have been called “disruptive and destructive” to national security by Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano. The cuts were designed to shave the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

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However, Canizales said, it should not have taken a “manufactured crisis” to spur the release of immigrants who did not pose a threat to national security.

“Our communities have experienced so much pain already,” she said. “Now is the moment for real immigration reform that puts all of us on the path to citizenship and ends these inhumane practices. If one dream is at risk, all our dreams continue to be at risk.”

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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