A cost cutting measure would release illegal immigrants from Texas jails, possibly putting criminals back on the streets and in Houston neighborhoods.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement have told its field offices to review its inmates and determine whether the agency can afford them.
The department released a statement, saying, in part:
"As a result of this review, a number of detained aliens have been released around the country and placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release. ICE is continuing to prosecute their cases in immigration court, and when ordered, will seek their removal from the country."
That could mean the agency will track them after they are released.
Detainees have been released for years. In 2011, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R) reacted to Supreme Court mandates and diplomatic stalemates that have forced the U.S. to release some immigrants that can't be sent home.
"I think it's outrageous,” said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R). "I think the State Department needs to put more pressure on these countries to take these people back."
As local 2 investigates has revealed, an ice database shows that the U.S. detained 12,000 immigrants in three years. They were all ordered to be deported but were then released on U.S. soil.
More than 60 percent of those released have been convicted of crimes in the U.S. The government cannot send them home because their governments don't want them back.
Immigration officials said the agency will continue to pursue cases in court and deport people when warranted. Immigration activists claim detainees were released in Texas, California, Florida and New Jersey.