Well, it is a joke, just not in the traditional sense of the word.
(CNN) — At first, Miguel Hernandez thought it was a mistake, or worse, a joke.
The 19-year-old had been pulled over for failure to use his turn signal, but the fact that he is an undocumented immigrant landed him in a detention center in rural Georgia.
Hernandez was certain that deportation proceedings would follow soon, and was mulling over it when a guard brought some news: He was being released.
“I was walking and I was thinking, this is a joke. They probably got confused with another guy or something,” Hernandez said.
More likely, Hernandez was one of hundreds of undocumented immigrants released from detention because of looming budget cuts set to take effect Friday absent congressional action.
The package of forced budget cuts, known as sequestration, will mean $85 billion of government-wide cuts.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decision to move detainees to less costly supervision options was met with backlash from Republicans who accuse the Obama administrationof using scare tactics to win a political battle.