Mass illegal immigrant release could be headache for Obama, tricky for GOP

The release of hundreds of illegal immigrants into a federal monitoring system this week may be an ongoing headache for the Obama administration, as Republicans focus their scrutiny on uncovering potential missteps.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, “will be aggressively examining the ramification of this decision,” according to a committee aide.

And Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, pressed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to take more responsibility for the releases, which she says she did not know about beforehand.

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“I am concerned that you have chosen to distance yourself from the actions of ICE,” said Coats in a letter to Napolitano on Friday. “As Secretary of Homeland Security, you have a responsibility to oversee the proper management of the department’s resources. I believe you should have been on top of this situation and taken steps far earlier to prevent this action.”

Napolitano will undoubtedly be pressed on the issue when she comes to testify on cybersecurity next Wednesday before Rep. Mike McCaul’s (R-Texas) House Homeland Security Committee. ICE Director John Morton promised to answer McCaul’s letter to him earlier this week in which he raised questions about exactly how many detainees had been released and what tools ICE was using to track illegal immigrants, a committee aide said.

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