Homeland Security Sec. Janet NapolitanoFive Georgia Republican congressmen said Thursday it appears the recent decision by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to release upwards of 2,000 undocumented immigrants from federal detention was “politically motivated” and not a necessary consequence of sequestration budget cuts.

“The agency’s decision to mass release illegal aliens detained in federal custody under the guise of budget cuts is both puzzling and alarming,” reads a new letter signed by GOP Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, Doug Collins, Lynn Westmoreland and Tom Graves.

Sec. Napolitano announced earlier this month that budget cuts had forced the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release hundreds of low-risk detainees from custody, but the conservative quintet say in a new letter that the release violates the agency’s “mission of ensuring the safety and security of the American people.”

The Associated Press reported last week the agency had designs on the release of an additional 3,000 low-risk undocumented immigrants to offset budget cuts that might otherwise affect investigative and protective units.

The White House said the decision was made by career civil servants and not political appointees, but the Peach Staters say the timing of the release–Napolitano delivered congressional testimony on the impact of sequestration on DHS the day before the ICE release but made no mention of the pending discharge–gives reason to believe politics infected the decision.

“We fail to see how releasing 2,000 illegal aliens before sequestration went into effect on march 1 nor plans to release 3,000 more during March … ‘minimize[d] the impact of sequester,'” the bunch wrote. “In fact, your repeated failure to be forthcoming about the releases gives the impress that the decision was politically motivated.”

The group have asked Napolitano to respond to a series of questions probing the release’s provenance and want an accounting of the number and offenses of detainees released in Georgia.

One of the letter’s signatories, Rep. Broun, has already announced a campaign for the Republican Senate nomination and a second, Rep. Gingrey, is also expected to pursue the nod.

– James Richardson