Significant numbers of detainees were released from ICE detention centers across the country today, apparently in anticipation of sequestration. They are being released into alternative to detention programs. Some will be required to wear GPS ankle bracelets and some will be asked to report periodically to ICE officials. The releases come on the heels of the Obama Administration commenting that immigration enforcement and detention will be greatly reduced if steep budget cuts are instituted on Friday March 1st.
ICE was asked to quickly prioritize detainees who did not pose a threat to the public and who are low enforcement priorities. Those who were released will still be subject to the immigration laws of the United States and will still be required to report for hearings in Immigration Court if they were already in the removal or deportation process.
There is expected to be more detainees released in the coming days as ICE authorities continue to identify those amenable to release. While this is purely a budgetary move, immigrant advocates applaud the government for releasing these individuals. From an attorney’s point of view, it is much more advantages to represent a client who is on the non-detained docket than one who is detained. Additionally, once released, the cases almost always take longer to adjudicate which will allow many to remain in the United States and take advantage of immigration reform should Congress pass such legislation.
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