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In this Feb. 25, 2103 file photo, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano briefs reporters at the White House in Washington. The Homeland Security Department released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation from immigration jails in recent weeks due to looming budget cuts and planned to release 3,000 more during March, The Associated Press has learned. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

WASHINGTON -- The Associated Press has learned that the Homeland Security Department released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation from immigration jails in recent weeks because of looming budget cuts. It also planned to release 3,000 more during March.

The newly disclosed figures, cited in internal government budget documents reviewed by the AP, are significantly higher than what the Obama administration acknowledged this week as a "few hundred" illegal immigrants who were released under the budget-savings process.

The budget documents show that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released roughly 1,000 illegal immigrants from its jails around the U.S. each week since at least Feb. 15. The agency's field offices have reported more than 2,000 released before intense criticism this week led to a temporary shutdown of the plan.

Associated Press,

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