GOP lawmaker rips Napolitano for releasing detainees

A senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary committee on Friday called into question the leadership abilities of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, expressing “outrage” at what he called the department’s questionable response to sequestration — including the release of detainees from detention centers across the country.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas also questioned in a letter to Ms. Napolitano the issuance of furlough notices to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel, demanding a list of alternative cost-saving measures that were considered, an explanation as to why DHS is targeting CBP instead of non-security personnel for furlough, and a description of all charges that were being pursued against all released detainees.

“These actions call into question the department’s commitment to its core missions and raise serious concerns about the judgment of DHS leadership,” he wrote. “I would urge you to follow OMB Guidance and look at alternative ways to implement the requirements of sequestration, including renewed efforts to eliminate wasteful and duplicative spending not aligned with core missions.”

Mr. Cornyn reminded Ms. Napolitano in the letter that under sequestration, the department is required to identify approximately $3.1 billion in cuts for fiscal 2013, a 5.1 percent reduction of total discretionary spending. He said that in written testimony submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Ms. Napolitano indicated that CBP would have to reduce its work hours “by the equivalent of over 5,000 Border Patrol agents and the equivalent of over 2,750 CBP Officers.”

He also wrote that on Tuesday, Ms. Napolitano warned air travelers to expect delays in airport processing time of “between 150 and 200 percent” due to elimination of overtime and furloughs for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other airport agents.

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