Monday, July 18, 2011

Funding to States for Criminal Aliens Missing in 2012 Appropriations Draft

The House Appropriations Committee approved a Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for 2012 funding which fails to provide any money to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). (Press Release, July 13, 2011) The draft legislation, which cleared committee by voice vote, provides funding for the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Commerce, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation, in addition to related agencies. (Bill Draft) SCAAP receives its annual budgetary allotment through DOJ appropriations.

SCAAP provides federal money to states and local municipalities for the costs they incur from the incarceration of criminal aliens. (Bureau of Justice Assistance SCAAP Guidelines and Application) To qualify for reimbursement, a jurisdiction must have incarcerated an alien with at least one felony or two misdemeanor convictions for violations of state or local law for a time period of no less than four consecutive days. (Id.) The authority for SCAAP comes from Section 241(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. According to this statute, the state or political subdivision can submit a written request to the DOJ for compensation. SCAAP is, however, subject to the annual congressional budgetary allotments.

Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), who serves on the Appropriations Committee, provided hope that SCAAP funding might eventually be restored to the 2012 budget. (CQ, July 13, 2011) Wolf remarked on the benefits of SCAAP and asserted that he would make it a priority. (Id.) Due to Congressman Wolf’s confidence on SCAAP’s potential return, Representative John Carter (R-TX) withdrew an amendment which would have provided $136 million to the program. (Id.) “You have my commitment,” Wolf told Carter, that “[funding] will be at this number, but I believe it will be higher than this number.” (Id.)

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