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In brief: Senate confirms Lew as Treasury secretary

Washington – The Senate confirmed Jacob Lew to be Treasury secretary, affirming President Barack Obama’s choice of a budget expert at a time when Congress and the White House are at odds over sharp government spending cuts.

The Senate voted 71-26 to support the nomination.

Lew, 57, had most recently served as Obama’s chief of staff. He succeeds Timothy Geithner, who completed a tumultuous four-year term in which he helped lead the administration’s response to the financial crisis and recession.

White House: ICE decided to release detainees

Washington – The White House worked Wednesday to distance itself from the recent release of illegal immigrants from federal custody, a move officials at the Department of Homeland Security suggested was necessary given looming budget cuts.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the decision to release hundreds of low-level, non-criminal detainees from across the country was made by “career officials at ICE” to ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement stayed within budget while continuing to monitor and seek the deportation of every individual released.

The release came “as a result of fiscal uncertainty over the continuing resolution, as well as possible sequester,” Carney said.

Also Wednesday, ICE disputed reports that Gary Mead, who oversees enforcement and removal operations at the agency, had announced his resignation in the wake of the release. Spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said Mead had long ago planned to retire this spring.

“As planned, and as shared with ICE staff weeks ago, Mr. Mead will retire at the end of April,” Christensen wrote in an email.


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Unapologetic Trump digs in on immigration despite outrage

UPDATED: 8:21 p.m.

updated  An unapologetic President Donald Trump defended his administration’s border-protection policies Monday in the face of rising national outrage over the forced separation of migrant children from their parents. Calling for tough action against illegal immigration, Trump declared the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp” on his watch.