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White House Says It's Not Behind Release of Illegal Immigrants

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House said on Wednesday that it was a decision by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release hundreds of illegal immigrants from detention in anticipation of budget cuts that would be brought on by the sequester.

At a press briefing, administration spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that ICE took the action on its own "without any input from the White House."

According to Caney, the agency based its decision to order the release of illegal immigrants from detention facilities "as a result of fiscal uncertainty" resulting from deep automatic spending cuts that will affect numerous federal programs on March 1.

All deportation cases against the freed detainees will remain open.

However, Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia were furious about the release, blaming the Obama administration and accusing the White House of trying to further scare Americans about the looming sequester.

Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul asked ICE Director John Morton questions about the number of people released, where it happened and why each detainee was considered releasable.

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