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editorial

Release of illegal immigrants wasn’t correct response to sequestration

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted she was surprised by her department’s release of an undisclosed number of low-risk immigrant detainees in an attempt to save money before the federal budget sequestration took hold last week. But the episode, held up by some commentators as a sign of the unpredictable consequences of arbitrary cuts, actually raises more fundamental questions about immigration enforcement.

The first question is why lower-level bureaucrats felt empowered on their own to release detainees who were asylum-seekers, foreign nationals who overstayed their visas, or illegal immigrants who committed minor offenses. As a simple matter of law enforcement, the department should have a clear hierarchy of decision-making, and the decisions about which types of illegal immigrants should be detained and released should be made at a high level.

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