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Did sequestration force release of state immigration detainees?

Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-01 19:00:52-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Last January, Linda Cedillos says her husband of five years was deported back to his home country of Honduras, despite being married to an American citizen, raising a family, paying taxes and having filed all the appropriate immigration papers.

Roberto Cedillos’ one mistake, Linda says, was missing a status court hearing in 2005.  Cedillos says her husband reached out to ICE officials soon after missing the court date.

“We’ve done the right thing and we’ve been punished for it,” Cedillos says.

Linda Cedillos argues had her husband remained in the shadows with thousands of other undocumented workers, he would still be in the country.

She says she’s baffled that U.S. Immigration officials are releasing hundreds of undocumented workers from detention centers across the country because of budget cuts caused by the sequestration.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, lashed out at the Obama administration, saying “the administration is needlessly endangering American lives” by releasing criminal immigrants.

Immigration officials say those who have been released are non-criminals or low-risk offenders without serious criminal histories.

While the government won’t specify how many detainees have been released, an ICE spokesperson person says the detainees were released from facilities across the country.

Virginia has two ICE detention facilities, including one in Farmville and Fairfax.

Cedillos has been working tirelessly over the past year trying to secure the rights of due-process for thousands of undocumented workers with American families.

On Valentine’s Day, she met with 53 Congressional lawmakers, including Senator Tim Kaine.

While Cedillos says she’s happy for the released detainees who are making a good-faith effort to become American citizens, she believes the government is being unfair by simply releasing workers because of budget reasons.

“This detainee thing is to help the government,” Cedillos says.  “It’s nothing about humanity, there’s no humanity.”