Gov. Perry: Washington Continues to Shortchange Texans and Americans
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today blasted the federal government for slashing funding from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which helps states cover the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens who have committed crimes in the U.S. The omnibus appropriations bill currently moving through Congress increases overall spending by $6.8 billion, or 11.7 percent over last year, while reducing SCAAP funding by $70 million or 17.5 percent from last year’s level. A final Senate vote is expected as early as this weekend.
“The federal government continues to compromise the safety and security of our country, and is adding insult to injury by leaving the cost of incarcerating criminal aliens who have infiltrated a border Washington has failed to secure on the backs of our state and local communities,” Gov. Perry said. “The State of Texas has already committed hundreds of millions of dollars to fill gaps along the border, and the least the federal government can do is fully reimburse states and local communities for picking up the slack on a federal responsibility.”
In May, Gov. Perry sent a letter urging President Barack Obama to reverse the administration’s proposal to zero out the program in the president’s budget for fiscal year 2010, thereby eliminating SCAAP completely.
“Not only do Texans suffer from increased crime associated with a porous international border, but taxpayers must pay for the legal defense and subsequent incarceration of criminal aliens, only a fraction of which is reimbursed by the federal government,” Gov. Perry’s letter read. “For these reasons, I hope that you will give serious consideration to expanding, rather than eliminating SCAAP.”
The federal government funded SCAAP at a total of $400 million in fiscal year 2009, of which Texas received only $18 million, while the Texas Department of Criminal Justice spent $143 million to incarcerate more than 13,000 criminal aliens in fiscal year 2008 (latest data available).
This proposed federal funding cut follows a plan announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October to transport illegal aliens from other states into Texas solely for the purpose of deportation. The Alien Transfer and Exit Program (ATEP) will transport more than 34,000 illegal aliens per year through Presidio, essentially turning the area into a way station for the repatriation of illegal immigrants and increasing the likelihood that these individuals will immediately cross back into Texas, which is already bearing an uneven burden in dealing with immigration and border security issues along the Texas-Mexico border.
Since January, Gov. Perry has repeatedly urged the federal government, through letters to President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, to approve his request for 1,000 Title 32 National Guardsmen to support civilian law enforcement efforts to enhance border security in Texas. The federal government has yet to officially respond to the governor’s request.
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