The U.S. Homeland Security Department released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation in recent weeks due to looming budget cuts and planned to free 3,000 more in March, The Associated Press reports. The figures, in internal budget documents reviewed by AP, are significantly higher than the “few hundred” illegal immigrants the Obama administration acknowledged had been freed under the budget-savings process.
The government documents show that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released roughly 1,000 illegal immigrants around the U.S. each week since at least Feb. 15. The agency's field offices have reported more than 2,000 immigrants released before intense criticism led to a temporary shutdown of the plan, according to the documents. The states where immigrants were released include Arizona, California, Georgia and Texas. The White House said it was not consulted about the releases, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged they occurred in a manner she regrets. As of last week, the agency held an average daily population of 30,733 in its jails.