Federal funds sought to pay for jailing illegal immigrants

first_imgThe county Board of Supervisors, on a lobbying mission in Washington this week, is scheduled to meet with Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon today in seeking federal money to cover the cost of holding jail inmates who are illegal immigrants – a $73 million tab the county mostly paid out-of-pocket during 2004-05. President George W. Bush’s proposed 2007 budget eliminates funding to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. Established in 1994, it reimburses state and local agencies the cost for incarcerating inmates who are undocumented, as border security is the province of the federal government. “The president in his budget lined out all SCAAP funding,” Bob Hauter, an aide for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said Tuesday from Washington. “What we’re looking for is a restoration. “We believe we should be fully reimbursed, … to reimburse the local agencies on a cost we have no ability to affect.” “That ignores the fact that there are 12 million estimated illegal aliens already in the country,” he said. “What we’re talking about with SCAAP are not people are who crossing the border. We are talking about the people who are already here and are committing crimes that we have to process and house.” The board met with Department of Justice officials Tuesday, and plans to take up the issue today with local Congress members, including McKeon, R-Santa Clarita; Reps. David Drier, R-Glendora, and Jane Harman, D-Venice. On Thursday, they will meet with White House staffers and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. “McKeon is the chair of a major conference committee,” Hauter said. “He is from California and he cares very deeply to make sure we get the funding.” McKeon spokesman James Geoffrey said the congressman, whose 25th District includes the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, can be counted an ally. “Those bearing the burden should get the most help,” Geoffrey said. “That’s what he wants to see. He’s certainly going to do what he can so it goes that way.” [email protected] (661) 257-5253160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventAccording to figures compiled by the Board of Supervisors, SCAAP reimbursement for the county fell from $34 million to $11.5 million in 2003, when Washington delivered a 56 percent cut to the program. Though the money have been slightly restored in recent years, it remains a drop in the bucket. For 2005, the county received $12.5 million, about 17 percent of the estimated $73 million cost for jailing inmates who are illegal immigrants. Of the 600 to 700 booked by the county Sheriff’s Department daily, at least 25 percent are undocumented, Hauter said. “Our local funding has to deal with all sorts of responsibilities,” he said. “This is something we’re saddled with because of the failure of the federal government.” The Bush administration has justified the reduction with an intention to bolster border security. But Hauter believes that’s not enough. last_img