Part of the Bay Area News Group

House adds money for criminal aliens

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007 at 4:18 pm in Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren.

The House this afternoon voted 388-39 for a bipartisan amendment introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Linda Sánchez, D-Lakewood; and David Dreier, R-San Dimas, to increase funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) by $55 million to a total of $460 million for FY 2008.

SCAAP is the federal government’s reimbursement to state and local governments for the costs of incarcerating undocumented criminal aliens. California usually gets about 40 percent of the allocation.

“Many states, including California, have come to rely on SCAAP funding to help them absorb the costs of incarcerating undocumented alien criminals,” Lofgren said in a news release. “Immigration policy is an inherently federal responsibility, and the federal government should do all it can to ensure that our state and local governments are not unduly burdened by its actions. Increasing SCAAP funding is a common sense response to what has become a funding problem at the state and local level. $55 million will have a real and direct positive impact on state and local governments.”

The program began in 1994 but the Bush Administration for years has been proposing to defund SCAAP completely, including no money at all for the program in its budget proposal; each year Congress adds some money back in. Congress approved $250 million for it in 2003; $296.8 million for 2004; $301 million for 2005; $405 million for 2006; and $405 million for 2007. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plus 16 other governors in May had asked Congress to provide $950 million for SCAAP in Fiscal Year 2008.

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