WASHINGTON — The Associated Press has learned that Homeland Security Department official in charge of the agency’s immigration enforcement and removal operations has resigned after hundreds of illegal immigrants were released from jails because of government spending cuts.
In an email obtained Wednesday by the AP, Gary Mead told coworkers that he was leaving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the end of April. Mead is the head of enforcement and removal operations at ICE.
Mead had told co-workers of his resignation in the email sent Tuesday, hours after U.S. officials had confirmed that a few hundred illegal immigrants facing deportation had been released from immigration jails due to budget cuts.
President Barack Obama’s spokesman said Wednesday the White House was never consulted but described the immigrants as “low-risk, non-criminal detainees.”
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Update, The Washington Post (4:32 p.m.):
ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen issued the following statement on Wednesday about the AP’s story:
“The Associated Press’ report is inaccurate and misleading. U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Gary Mead announced several weeks ago to ICE senior leadership that he planned to retire after 40 years in federal service and 6 years at ICE. As planned, and as shared with ICE staff weeks ago, Mr. Mead will retire at the end of April.”