Anticipating broad automatic spending cuts that kick in on Friday, Immigration Customs Enforcement announced it would release up to 10,000 nonviolent detainees from detention centers nationwide. The news this week finally provoked outrage from Republicans who have so far played down the consequences of the sequester.
On Fox News, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) claimed Friday there is another reason entirely for the release. According to Brewer, detainees were released across the country as part of a tit for tat scheme to get back at the governor and state:
JAN BREWER: [Janet Napolitano] is in the position, as is the President, they ought not to be in the position of surprise and they are the people who are putting everybody else in the mode of surprise. Chaos. It is simply total chaos, and it’s the blame game.
BILL HEMMER (HOST): Why do you think this happened in Arizona, in your state? What do you think?
BREWER: Well, you know, I personally believe that it could be pay back, it could be to punish Arizona, make them squirm. They are pushing back on what we are pushing on. Because we want our borders secured. And we’re strong about it; we believe in the rule of law, which they should be upholding. And they’re not. [...]
HEMMER: Do you think they are picking on you?
BREWER: I think it’s obvious they are doing everything in their power. This is just another notch in their belt bucket if you will. They are suing Arizona, when did you see the federal government sue a state?
As Elise Foley notes, “detaining immigrants is an expensive business, with an average daily cost of $122 to $164 per person, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.” Alternative methods, such as meeting with a caseworker or wearing an ankle bracelet, cost as low as 30 cents per person. The number of detainees has grown to more than 400,000 in the same period ICE’s budget has increased 87 percent since 2005.
In Arizona, ICE says it released 300 people this week and will supervise them using alternative methods, while another 2,280 remain in custody.