View Full Version : Illegal immigrant jail funds slashed

02-14-2012, 02:27 PM
Illegal immigrant jail funds slashed


13 February 2012

WASHINGTON — In what has become something of an annual tradition, the presidential budget proposal unveiled Monday contains deep cuts to a federal program that reimburses states for the costs of jailing illegal immigrants, sparking calls to restore funding.

The White House’s plan to slash the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program from $240 million to $70 million follows similar proposals over the last several years, from both Democratic and Republican administrations. But under pressure from law enforcement agencies that have come to rely on the aid, Congress has repeatedly put much of the funding back into the program.

In fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 31, Riverside and San Bernardino counties received almost $2 million through the program.

The Department of Justice, which oversees the program, was faced with a demand to decrease spending across the board, while at the same time having to find ways to pay for “urgent unmet criminal justice needs.”

“The proposed reduction to SCAAP will allow DOJ to maintain adequate funding levels for some of its highest priority programs,” according a line-by-line justification issued by the agency.

California, which traditionally gets more than a third of total SCAAP funding, would be hardest hit by the cuts.

“It would be unfortunate if the federal government spent less money supporting the cost of these inmates,” said Jeffrey Callison, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “But at this point, of course, it’s a proposed budget item. There’s a long way to go between it being a proposed line item in a budget and it being enacted.”

Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2012 also sought to cut funding for the program. Using their positions on the House committee that oversees federal spending, Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, and Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, successfully fought to restore funding to the program through the appropriations process.

Arguing that the federal government should bear financial burden of incarcerating undocumented immigrants, Calvert vowed to do the same this year.

“The President is employing the usual budget gimmicks: reducing funding for a bipartisan program that is clearly the responsibility of the federal government in order to give the appearance of a fiscally-responsible budget,” Calvert said in a written statement. “I will once again work with Members on both sides of the aisle to increase SCAAP funding while recognizing that current fiscal constraints demand we offset any increase with a reduction elsewhere in the budget.”