LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hours before federal spending cuts were set to go into effect, the impact was already beginning to be felt Thursday along the U.S.- Mexico border and in California prisons.
KNX 1070′s Tom Reopelle reports the U.S. Border Patrol is among multiple federal agencies bracing for across-the-board spending cuts.
The automatic cuts – known formally as “sequestration” – are expected to take effect Friday, forcing Border Patrol agents to face a 40 percent pay cut as well as 14 furlough days a year.
Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, said agents are outraged over what he calls “the perfect storm.”
“You have furloughs, you have the pay cuts, and then you talk about immigration reform on top of it,” Moran said. “We’re gonna be looking at a very dangerous situation on the border, and our guys are gonna be the ones that pay the price, monetarily and physically if they’re assaulted or injured.”
The financial consequences could ultimately force some agents to leave the agency altogether, leaving the border even less secure, according to Moran.
“I talked to several people that they’re gonna have a hard time making their mortgage payments, and I’ve heard from even more people that are saying we don’t have the stability that a federal job is known for, and they’re going to go look elsewhere for state law enforcement jobs,” he said.
An expected $85 billion in sequestration cuts have also lead prison officials in California, Arizona, Florida, and Georgia to release illegal immigrants from detention because the Obama administration says it cannot afford to keep them incarcerated.
CBS News reported many immigration advocates said that “supervised release” – in which inmates wear an electronic monitoring band that alerts officials to their location – costs about $14 a day, compared to about $160 a day to keep detainees in jail.
Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would not reveal exactly how many detainees have been released ahead of Friday’s automatic budget cuts taking effect, nor would they say in which states the releases occurred.