Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bush budget proposal cuts money for counties that jail illegal immigrants

In fiscal year 2005, the U.S. government reimbursed counties almost three-quarters of a million dollars for housing illegal aliens accused of committing crimes. The federal reimbursement program was created in 2000 by the Department of Justice to pay local and state government entities the costs of holding illegal immigrants in jail and prison.

But in planning for Fiscal 2008, President Bush didn’t request any new funding for State Criminal Alien Assistance Program reimbursements.

"One of the major fronts we need assistance in is helping us pay for the jailing of the criminal illegal immigrants that the federal government fails to stop at the borders," says one Texas sheriff. "They are passing the buck." The Sheriff's jail houses as many as 1,200 inmates a day, at least 20 percent, or 240 of them illegal immigrants. Though the 2008 funding will be cut, sheriffs across the country continue to see it as their responsibility to hold illegal immigrants in their jails, so efforts to secure the funding again are still underway.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, will ask for the money in upcoming funding negotiations in Congress. "The federal government is the one with primary responsibility, yet we have the double whammy of the government not acting on our broken borders," Cornyn said. "I am concerned by this proposal and I hope the Democratic majority will allow amendments to fix some of these egregious things in the appropriations bill."

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