That's important because the GOP's political future may in part be staked on potential gains that the party can make with Hispanic voters. Mr. Obama, too, could lose a lot if immigration reform falters.
"It's natural that people in a federal organization are going to take this chance to prove how important they are to the public, especially as that goal is aligned with a White House trying to raise the ante" over the spending cuts, says Allert Brown-Gort, an immigration expert at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. "But," he adds, "this also points to some of the questions around the immigration bill right now," including how serious the government is about securing the US-Mexico border.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the release came as ICE prepared for the sequester, which is set to kick in Friday and which mandates automatic cuts from nearly all corners of the federal bureaucracy, including ICE's $2.05 billion budget. In announcing the release, ICE insisted that the government is not dropping these deportation cases.