Editorial: Homeland cuts without Security
In this space on Feb. 27 we took issue with the federal government releasing 2,000 illegal immigrants, blaming the forced budget cuts - also known as sequestration. Hundreds of people facing deportation were released by the Homeland Security Department, and President Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, described the immigrants as "low-risk, non-criminal detainees."
We took Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to task because she has turned 180 degrees, formerly - as Arizona's governor - pressing the federal government to do its job regarding illegal aliens in our state and now releasing them in droves.
Republicans cried foul. No surprise then this week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that some of the illegals may have been convicted of serious crimes, citing "local sources." In a letter to Napolitano, he demanded new information on the release of the detainees, including the details of their criminal records.
McCain said there's a possibility some of them had committed serious crimes such as smuggling, narcotics trafficking and child molestation.
Possible? Of course. Worrisome? Absolutely, considering that the states where immigrants were released include California, Georgia, Texas AND ARIZONA.
Other Senate and House Republican leaders also have called for a review of the releases. They argue that the plan allowed thousands of criminals to return to the street without regard to public safety.
Government documents show the Obama administration planned to release roughly 5,000 immigrants by the end of March. The agency's field offices reported more than 2,000 immigrants were released in February before intense criticism led to a temporary shutdown of the plan, according to the documents.
Intense criticism. That's a political phrase.
What's also political - because they do not tell the whole truth - is that immigration officials said the immigrants still eventually face deportation and are required to appear for future court hearings.
Those courts are so backlogged the hearings are set for years, not months, from now and few - if any - of the subjects actually show up.
The immediate worry, though, is that if what McCain is saying is true, we question the wisdom of the government in freeing people who may pose a danger to the public.