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Government agencies are already taking steps to comply with automatic spending cuts that took effect last Friday.
One of the Navy's premiere warships, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, sits pier-side in Norfolk, Va., its tour of duty delayed. The carrier and its 5,000-person crew were to leave for the Persian Gulf on Feb. 8, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg.
Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that more than 2,000 illegal immigrants have been freed from jails across the country since Feb. 15. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, however, says the number is in the hundreds. ICE officials say they had reviewed several hundred cases of immigrants and decided to put them on an "appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release."
People arriving on international flights were said to experience delays at airport customs and immigration booths, including at Los Angeles International and O'Hare International in Chicago. Officials said Monday that's because they closed lanes that would have previously been staffed by workers on overtime.
Examples of other steps that are planned or predicted:
Furloughs of air traffic controllers won't kick in until April because the Federal Aviation Administration is required by law to give its employees advance notice. Officials have warned that the busiest airports could be forced to close some of their runways, causing widespread flight delays and cancellations. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood predicts flights to cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco could have delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because fewer controllers will be on duty.
FAA officials have said they expect to eliminate overnight shifts by air traffic controllers in more than 60 airport towers and close more than 100 towers at smaller airports. But information posted online by the agency shows 72 airports that could lose midnight shifts and 238 airports whose towers could be closed.