Congressman Lou Barletta railed against a Homeland Security Department decision to release hundreds of illegal aliens from immigration jails.

The move was

made as sweeping budget cuts are all but guaranteed to begin Friday.

"If this is the best that they could do," Barletta said Wednesday of the prisoner release, "that's shameful."

The White House said Homeland Security's decision to release hundreds of people facing deportation was made without its input, according to the Associated Press. Jay Carney, White House spokesman, described the immigrants Wednesday as "low-risk, non-criminal detainees."

Barletta, R-10, said the crimes among those released included theft and drunk driving, and that some were documented gang members.

He had harsh criticism of Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano, saying her judgment was deserving of serious questioning.

The across-the-board cuts in federal spending - $85 billion through September and $1.2 trillion more over the following nine years - can be dictated by the president, Barletta said.

"The president has bypassed Congress with executive orders in the past. Now we gave him the football to pick and choose where these cuts will actually fall within the departments, and instead he's blaming everyone else instead of sitting down with people in Washington," Barletta said.

Furloughs coming

More than half of the nation's 2.1 million government workers may be required to take furloughs if automatic budget cuts take effect and agencies are forced to trim budgets, according to the AP.

Federal prison workers face up to 14 days of furlough between April and September.

Barletta said those facing furlough or job losses can point their fingers at the president.

"He makes the decision on who loses their jobs and who doesn't, what programs get cut. He has the flexibility to make whatever cuts he wants. He can go into departments and dictate where he wants those cuts to fall. Everyone he has paraded behind him for losing their jobs, can thank him for losing their jobs," he said.

As for Friday's planned meeting between Obama and Legislative leaders, he said "I'm not optimistic that much will happen. Why wait until Friday?"