Earlier today the Associated Press ran an article saying that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had started releasing "several hundred" illegal aliens held in DHS detention facilities because of the impending sequestration of federal funds.
This was an odd move — presumably designed to scare the Congress into resolving the sequestration crisis.
First, sequestration has not happened yet, and when it happens it will impact government operations slowly, so why announce it ahead of time?
But more significantly, DHS apparently thinks that the release of the illegals will alarm the public and cause them to call their representatives in Congress. That implies that DHS believes — one hopes correctly — that the public wants detained illegals to stay in their detention centers.
Yet, everything else we hear from DHS suggests that they want to decrease enforcement of the immigration law, not sustain it at current levels.
So why should DHS threaten to do what it wants to do anyway (let 'em go) if the government is not given the money it wants?
My sense is that this is not so much a threat as letting the world know that if sequestration goes through, DHS will still further decrease its interest in enforcing the law and will be on record as saying that this would be one of the results of reaching the fiscal cliff.
It is the advance documentation of an excuse for doing something DHS has longed to do — letting loose illegals, but probably not axe-murderers, to use my colleague Jessica Vaughan's phrase.
I doubt that DHS is confused. I think it is just publicly using the lemons of sequestration to make the lemonade of non-enforcement.