New York Fleet Week celebrations in doubt as federal budget cuts threaten to cut military pay, close schools and ‘release criminal immigrants on to the streets’
- Hundreds of illegal immigrants reportedly being released because it’s cheaper than holding cells is an ‘abhorrent’ move, says Republican Bob Goodlatte
- 150,000 military personnel could lose up to $7,500 in annual pay
- Long delays at airports expected as TSA slashes number of workers
By Daniel Bates
PUBLISHED: 17:33 EST, 27 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:59 EST, 27 February 2013
Federal budget cuts have caused hundreds of illegal immigrants to be released onto the streets, a senior Republican claimed today.
Many who entered the U.S. without papers have now been freed from their cells even though they face deportation because Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn’t have enough money to keep them there.
Officials at the agency say that the move is in anticipation of the $85billion across the board budget cuts, which kick in on Thursday night.
Shipping out? Fleet Week hangs in the balance as the region could be affected by sequestration – the automatic spending cuts imposed by the federal government set to take effect on March 1
Travelers have also been warned to expect delays of up to 90 minutes extra at airports because the Transport Security Administration won’t be able to pay enough staff.
Schools could be closed, the economy could suffer, parks may be shut and hundreds of thousands of workers could be laid off.
Fleet Week could also be cancelled as a result of budget cuts, a blow to the thousands who look forward to the celebration of the Armed Forces each year.
The annual celebration, in which recently deployed ships dock at major cities for a week, usually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to ports with celebrations and parades.
The Navy’s air display team, The Blue Angels, will also likely not perform as they normally do.
Dark days ahead: Federal budgets cuts could lead to the cancellation of events such as Fleet Week where the nations military ships and aircraft visit cities around the country
The Army would lose $7 billion next year, the Navy more than $4 billion and Medicare payments to hospitals would fall by $5.6 billion.
ABC News reported that President Obama will meet with top four congressional leaders on Friday – John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell – to work out a deal, but by the the cuts will already have kicked in.
The most egregious sign of the crisis has already happened. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that it has turned to the supervised release of hundreds of illegal immigrants because it was cheaper than holding them in cells.
The New York Times reported that the inmates released were being held at centers in Hudson County, New Jersey; Polk County, Texas; Broward County, Florida; New Orleans and from centers in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and New York.
Decision day: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio challenged President Obama and the Senate to avoid the automatic spending cuts set to take effect in two days
ICE described those released as ‘noncriminals and other low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories’, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte was outraged.
Goodlatte said: ‘It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration.
‘By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives.’
Transport Secretary Ray LaHood has warned that flights to major cities like New York and San Francisco – plus international arrivals – could be delayed by an hour and a half because of long lines at security due to lack of staff.
Air traffic controllers may also be furloughed because the Federal Aviation Administration has to save $600 million, which will add to the problem.
President Obama has been running a series of campaign style adverts across the U.S. detailing how the cuts will impact on communities.
Among those worst hit will be the capital where elementary and high schools will lose $29 million in funding, 2,000 poor children will not be able to go to school and 150,000 military personnel will lose $7,500 a year in pay.
No area of government will be left unaffected and across the whole of the U.S., a study from the American Association of School Administrators has found that half of all schools will have to lay staff off.
Tough choices: The sequester, a series of severe budget cuts, is looming over lawmakers this week. The budget cuts are set to take effect on 1st March
One in 20 said they would have to close or consolidate their schools.
Forbes analyst Robert Lenzner predicts that the cuts could shave 1.1 per cent off of GDP at a time when the economy is still only growing at two per cent.
He has said: ‘When you subtract 1.1 per cent from 2 per cent you get growth at best of 0.9 per cent– definitely not enough to drive the unemployment rate down to the 6.5 per cent level.’
The cuts were imposed because of a failure on Capitol Hill to agree a deal to reduce the $16 trillion national debt, which rose to such a level in the wake of the 2008 recession.
The total amount of spending cuts will be $1.2 trillion over ten years, split 50-50 between defence and domestic spending.
The drastic measure was seen as an emergency provision designed to get Republicans and Democrats to act, but in the face of ongoing gridlock they are now set to come into effect.
John Boehner, the House Speaker, has been blunt in his assessment of the failure and told Senators to ‘get off their ass’ and make a deal.