clear
Friday July 31st, 2015 11:24AM

DHS official retires after immigrants are freed

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The senior Homeland Security Department official in charge of arresting and deporting illegal immigrants announced his retirement the same day the agency said that hundreds of people facing deportation had been released from immigration jails due to looming budget cuts, according to a letter obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. The government said he had told his bosses weeks ago that he planned to retire.

Gary Mead, executive associate director over enforcement and removal operations at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, disclosed his departure in an email to his staff Tuesday afternoon. The announcement of the release of the illegal immigrants had come earlier in the day.

President Barack Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, said Wednesday that the decision to release the immigrants was made without any input from the White House. He described the immigrants as "low-risk, non-criminal detainees."

The announcement that a few hundred illegal immigrants were being released was among the most significant and direct implications described so far by the Obama administration about the pending, automatic budget cuts that will take effect later this week under what is known as sequestration.

Republicans in Congress quickly criticized the decision and pressed the Homeland Security Department for details.

In an email to his staff obtained by the AP, Mead said he was leaving the agency at the end of April "with mixed emotions." He did not say what prompted his departure. Mead did not immediately respond to an email and a telephone call.

A spokeswoman for the agency, Gillian Christensen, said there was no connection between Mead's announcement to his staff and the decision to release the illegal immigrants. She said Mead had told senior leaders in the agency several weeks ago that he planned to retire.

Mead said Tom Homan will succeed him as acting executive associate director.

At the White House, Carney said the decision to release what he described as "a few hundred" of the 30,000 illegal immigrants in federal detention was made by "career officials" at the immigration agency. He said the immigrants who were released were still subject to deportation.

"All of these individuals remain in removal proceedings," Carney said. "Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety."

ICE is required by Congress to maintain 34,000 immigration jail beds. As of last week, the agency held an average daily population of 30,733 in its jails.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned this week that DHS might not be able to afford to maintain those 34,000 jail beds and that mandatory budget cuts would hurt the department's core missions.

"I don't think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester as without sequester," said Napolitano, adding that the impact would be "like a rolling ball. It will keep growing."

According to the National Immigration Forum, it costs the government about $164 a day to keep an illegal immigrant facing deportation jailed. In a report on immigration detention costs last year, the advocacy group said costs for supervised release can range from about 30 cents to $14 a day.

Republican lawmakers have decried the jail releases. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, sent a letter Wednesday to ICE Director John Morton asking who was released and what was being done to keep track of them.

"This decision reflects the lack of resource prioritization within the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is indicative of the department's weak stance on national security," McCaul wrote.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Congress letting 55 tax breaks expire at year end
In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty - once again - for millions of individuals and businesses.
2:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
Electric vehicle charging stations installed on UNG Gainesville, Dahlonega campuses
The University of North Georgia (UNG) has installed electric vehicle charging stations on its Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses, one of several new conservation initiatives on UNG's four campuses.
By AccessWDUN staff
10:59AM ( 25 minutes ago )
N. Ga. man injured in Knoxville ropes course accident dies
An 18-year-old Cumming man has died a week after falling with a safety cord wrapped around his neck at a Knoxville ropes course.
By Associated Press
5:55AM ( 5 hours ago )
Grand jury to review Clayton County sheriff shooting case out of Lawrenceville
Gwinnett County prosecutors say the case of an off-duty sheriff shooting a real estate agent at a metro Atlanta model home will be reviewed by a grand jury.
By Associated Press
5:38AM ( 5 hours ago )
Atlanta Hawks player arrested after brief Banks County chase
An Atlanta Hawks player faces felony drug charges after the vehicle he was riding in ran from Banks County deputies about 9 a.m. Thursday.
6:02PM ( 17 hours ago )
Banks County sheriff details credit union armed robbery
Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed is releasing more details of the armed robbery of a Homer credit union at 10:20 a.m. Thursday.
4:53PM ( 18 hours ago )