President against paying states for illegal immigration
It’s amazing that President Bush continues to pretend the federal government has no responsibility for illegal immigration and its effects.
The 2007 federal budget he presented Monday proposes killing the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program that helps states pay for jailing illegal immigrants.
That’s nothing new. Bush has done the same thing in past years. It’s just amazing that at this point, with all the attention illegal immigration has received lately, the president continues to take the view that it’s individual states’ and communities’ tough luck that Washington can’t or won’t come up with comprehensive reform of the nation's broken immigration system.
Luckily, Congress is a bit more grounded in reality and responsibility on the issue. Legislators allocated $405 million in the 2006 budget to reimburse states for holding illegal aliens who have committed crimes. California and other states will have to rely on Congress to come through again in the 2007 budget process.
Not that $405 million –
$50 million of which came via an amendment by local Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora – is anywhere close to equitable.
California and its counties get roughly 40 percent of the SCAAP funds, which amounted to $121 million for fiscal year 2005 and should be roughly $160 million for 2006. But the state spends about $750 million a year incarcerating immigrants who have crossed the border illegally and committed crimes here. Los Angeles County was reimbursed $12.5 million for 2005 while spending at least four times that. San Bernardino County was repaid just $407,580 last year, a fraction of what it spent.
Bush’s reason for cutting SCAAP funding is illogical. He lumps it in with ‘‘nonperforming” programs that lack ‘‘verifiable performance goals,” but what sense does that make for a reimbursement program? The criminals were actually incarcerated, after all, and many were identified as undocumented immigrants using a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement database.
It seems to us that, wherever one stands on the immigration debate, it’s obvious that the federal government is responsible for the impacts of its failure to manage immigration.
Dreier, who liked what he saw for the most part in the president’s budget, said he was disappointed that the proposal did not fund SCAAP. ‘‘I will work aggressively with my colleagues to ensure this vital program receives the funding that our local law enforcement needs,” Dreier said.
His colleagues must join in that effort to repay states and counties – partially, at least – for the costs of illegal immigration.
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How can he just pretend that there is not a problem? I don't get it