A detainee who had a felony second degree robbery and countless convictions for prostitution and solicitation for lewd conduct was among more than 300 people Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Phoenix released in February as part of a nationwide operation to save money.

Anticipating budget cuts due in part to sequestration, ICE released from custody 2,226 detainees — 342 in Arizona — in February, a move that took many by surprise.

More than 600 detainees with criminal records, including 32 with multiple felony convictions were released nationwide, according to new information provided by Senators John McCain and Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan.

The Phoenix office also released a detainee who had prior convictions for carrying a loaded firearm, DUI with a controlled substance, felony possession of drugs, second degree burglary, vandalism, and trespassing and another one convicted of an extreme case of driving under the influence and harassment, the news releases from the senators said.  

The Department of Homeland Security re-apprehended 24 of the 32 detainees with felony convictions who had been freed and used alternatives to detention such as ankle bracelets for the remaining eight. It’s not known how many of the 32 felons were released from detention facilities in Arizona.

ICE officials have said more than 60 percent of those released from immigration detention centers in Arizona were classified as non-criminal.

Read more in tomorrow's Star

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.