GOP senators demand details on release of illegal detainees

Senate Republicans introduced an amendment on Thursday that would require Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to turn over more details about the hundreds of illegal immigrants it released from detention centers last month.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the amendment to the Senate’s continuing resolution bill moving through the upper chamber, garnering the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), John Boozman (Ark.), Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Dan Coats (Ind.).

“When ICE recently released thousands of illegal immigrants from detention facilities, it was pretty clear that the administration didn’t have control of the situation and didn’t consider the ramifications to public safety,” Grassley (Iowa) said in a statement.

“The administration has a constitutional duty to faithfully uphold the laws, and when they don’t, the American people deserve an explanation.”

Ahead of the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that set in earlier this month, ICE officials released as many as 2,000 illegal immigrants from detention centers, primarily in the Southwest, and placed them on a supervised monitoring program. The program, Alternative to Detention, began under the George W. Bush administration as a less expensive option to housing illegal immigrants in the midst of deportation proceedings.

The White House has said career ICE officials made the recent move in an attempt to balance their budgets with the impending funding cuts fast approaching. The administration says that only low-risk illegal immigrants were released onto the program.

According to Grassley’s office, the GOP amendment would require ICE to give lawmakers more details about the number of illegal immigrants, the nature of their original crimes, their immigration status and the terms of their release. The measure would also force ICE to submit a budget report to the Appropriations and Judiciary committees about how the agency plans to maintain the congressionally mandated 34,000 detention beds.