Sequester update: Arizona residents react to release of undocumented immigrants

PHOENIX - The reality of the sequestration is setting in early in Arizona.

In an effort to save money, the Department of Homeland Security has set free hundreds of undocumented immigrants who were behind bars in our state.

The move came days ahead of the Friday deadline, and Arizona lawmakers and residents want to know why.

The federal government says it's a matter of money, but many Valley residents wonder if saving money is worth risking our safety and credibility.

ICE said the serious criminals and dangerous inmates will stay locked up and the supervised release of others will be more cost effective than jail time.

Federal officials said under supervised release, defendants may have to wear electronic monitoring bracelets and follow a strict reporting schedule, which could include visits to an immigration office.

But an ABC15 crew talked with a couple Valley residents Wednesday who think ICE made the wrong move.

"We have other places that we could possibly cut ," Katie Wi c k said. "I think this is a big issue and we need to make sure those who are crossing the border know that when they come here illegally, there's going to be consequences for it."

Kennedy Rice agreed.

"If they were going to release them, they could release them back into their home countries," said Rice. "Now all they're going to do is just disappear, some may be law -abiding and some may just go back to doing illegal activities."

According to the advocacy group, National Immigration Reform, it c osts as much as $164 per day to hold a detainee in the federal immigration system.

But for supervised release, it costs between 30 cents and $14 per day.

If you apply those figures to the 303 illegal immigrants released in Arizona this week, it comes out to about $45,450 in savings a day.

ICE says those released could face deportation and that more than 2,300 illegal immigrants remain in our jails right now.

Federal Officials said there are no plans this week to release substantially more of them, but warned that could change depending on what happens Friday.

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