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Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT OF 2006

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

The Senator from New York [Mrs. Clinton], for herself, Mr. Obama, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Salazar, and Mr. Schumer, proposes an amendment numbered 4072.

Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To establish a grant program to provide financial assistance to States and local governments for the costs of providing health care and educational services to noncitizens, and to provide additional funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program)

On page 259, line 23, strike ``section 286(c)'' and insert ``section 286(x)''.

On page 264, strike line 13, and insert the following:

``(x) State Impact Assistance Account.--

``(1) ESTABLISHMENT.--There

On page 264, strike line 20, and insert the following:

``218A and 218B.

``(2) STATE CRIMINAL ALIEN ASSISTANCE PROGRAM ACCOUNT; STATE HEALTH AND EDUCATION ASSISTANCE ACCOUNT.--

``(A) STATE CRIMINAL ALIEN ASSISTANCE PROGRAM ACCOUNT.--

``(i) ESTABLISHMENT.--There is established within the State Impact Aid Account a State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Account.

``(ii) DEPOSITS.--Notwithstanding any other provision under this Act, there shall be deposited in the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Account 25 percent of all amounts deposited in the State Impact Aid Account, which shall be available to the Attorney General to disburse in accordance with section 241(i).

``(B) STATE HEALTH AND EDUCATION ASSISTANCE ACCOUNT.--

``(i) ESTABLISHMENT.--There is established within the State Impact Assistance Account a State Health and Education Assistance Account.

``(ii) DEPOSITS.--Notwithstanding any other provision under this Act, there shall be deposited in the State Health and Education Assistance Account 75 percent of all amounts deposited in the State Impact Aid Account.

``(3) STATE IMPACT ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM.--

``(A) ESTABLISHMENT.--Not later than January 1 of each year beginning after the date of enactment of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in cooperation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services (referred to in this paragraph as the `Secretary'), shall establish a State Impact Assistance Grant Program, under which the Secretary shall award grants to States for use in accordance with subparagraph (D).

``(B) AVAILABLE FUNDS.--For each fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Secretary shall use 1/2 of the amounts deposited into the State Health and Education Assistance Account under paragraph 2(B)(ii) during the preceding year .

``(C) ALLOCATION.--The Secretary shall allocate grants under this paragraph as follows:

``(i) NONCITIZEN POPULATION.--

``(I) IN GENERAL.--Subject to subclause (II), 80 percent shall be allocated to States on a pro-rata basis according to the ratio that, based on the most recent year for which data of the Bureau of the Census exists--

``(aa) the noncitizen population of the State; bears to

``(bb) the noncitizen population of all States.

``(II) MINIMUM AMOUNT.--Notwithstanding the formula under subclause (I), no State shall receive less than $5,000,000 under this clause.

``(ii) HIGH GROWTH RATES.--Twenty percent shall be allocated on a pro-rata basis among the 20 States with the largest growth rate in noncitizen population, as determined by the Secretary, according to the ratio that, based on the most recent year for which data of the Bureau of the Census exists--

``(I) the growth rate in the noncitizen population of the State during the most recent 3-year period for which data is available; bears to

``(II) the combined growth rate in noncitizen population of the 20 States during the 3-year period described in subclause (I).

``(iii) FUNDING FOR LOCAL ENTITIES.--The Secretary shall require recipients of the State Impact Assistance Grants to provide units of local governments with not less than 70 percent of the grant funds not later than 180 days after the State receives grant funding. States shall distribute funds to units of local government based on demonstrated need and function.

``(D) USE OF FUNDS.--A State shall use a grant received under this paragraph to return funds to State and local governments, organizations, and entities for the costs of providing health services and educational services to noncitizens.

``(E) ADMINISTRATION.--A unit of local government, organization, or entity may provide services described in subparagraph (D) directly or pursuant to contracts with the State or another entity, including--

``(i) a unit of local government;

``(ii) a public health provider, such as a hospital, community health center, or other appropriate entity;

``(iii) a local education agency; and

``(iv) a charitable organization.

``(F) REFUSAL.--

``(i) IN GENERAL.--A State may elect to refuse any grant under this paragraph.

``(ii) ACTION BY SECRETARY.--On receipt of notice of a State of an election under clause (i), the Secretary shall deposit the amount of the grant that would have been provided to the State into the State Impact Assistance Account.

``(G) REPORTS.--

``(i) IN GENERAL.--Not later than March 1 of each year, each State that received a grant under this paragraph during the preceding fiscal year shall submit to the Secretary a report in such manner and containing such information as the Secretary may require, in accordance with clause (ii).

``(ii) CONTENTS.--A report under clause (i) shall include a description of--

``(I) the services provided in the State using the grant;

``(II) the amount of grant funds used to provide each service and the total amount available during the applicable fiscal year from all sources to provide each service; and

``(III) the method by which the services provided using the grant addressed the needs of communities with significant and growing noncitizen populations in the State.

``(H) COLLABORATION.--In promulgating regulations and issuing guidelines to carry out this paragraph, the Secretary shall collaborate with representatives of State and local governments.

``(I) STATE APPROPRIATIONS.--Funds received by a State under this paragraph shall be subject to appropriation by the legislature of the State, in accordance with the terms and conditions described in this paragraph.

``(J) EXEMPTION.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, section 6503(a) of title 31, United States Code, shall not apply to funds transferred to States under this paragraph.

``(K) DEFINITION OF STATE.--In this paragraph, the term `State' means each of--

``(i) the several States of the United States;

``(ii) the District of Columbia;

``(iii) the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;

``(iv) the Virgin Islands;

``(v) American Samoa; and

``(vi) the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.''.

On page 371, line 4, strike ``(B) 10 percent'' and insert the following:

``(B) 10 percent of such funds shall be deposited in the State Impact Aid Account in the Treasury in accordance with section 286(x);

``(C) 5 percent

On page 371, line 8, strike ``(C) 10 percent'' and insert ``(D) 5 percent''.

Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senators Salazar and Schumer be added, along with Senators Obama and Boxer, as cosponsors of this amendment.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, as has become abundantly clear from the debate on the floor, immigration is a Federal responsibility. As this debate has shown, for too long the Federal Government has neglected its duty.

My amendment addresses one of the clearest examples of this neglect because our failed national immigration policy has left our State and local governments to bear the brunt of the cost of immigration. Our schools, our hospitals, our other State and local services are being strained.

Obviously, this is a problem in many communities and not just in border communities. Throughout our country and in my State, there are counties and municipalities that are covering the costs of dealing with education, health care, and law enforcement without adequate or any Federal reimbursement. So we have left our local and State governments to fend for themselves. They should not be left to bear these costs alone because it is not they who are making Federal immigration policy.

This amendment does several things. It helps finally provide adequate support for State and local governments. How? Well, it not only appropriates the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program funding to our States, but it establishes a program that provides financial assistance to State and local governments for the cost of health and educational services related to immigration.

Money is allocated to our States in accordance with a funding formula based on the size and recent growth of the State's noncitizen population. The State must then pass the funds on to local governments and other entities that need the money for reimbursement. Here is how this program would be funded, because the amendment does not appropriate any new funds or impose any new fees on immigrants. Funding is drawn solely from existing fees already in the underlying bill.

The underlying bill creates a State impact assistance account at the Treasury, but it does not direct any money into that account. It is an empty account with no State purpose. My amendment would direct certain fees that already exist in the underlying bill into the account and then provide for the disbursement of the collected funds to State and local government.

To which fees are we referring? Well, there is a $500 fee for immigrants who participate in the guest worker program. Right now, that fee is not marked for any purpose, and the funds simply go to the Treasury. My amendment directs this $500 fee into the State impact assistance account. Additionally, the underlying bill imposes a $2,000 fee for the undocumented immigrants to participate in the path to legalization program spelled out in title VI of the bill, plus imposes an additional fine that is left to the Department of Homeland Security to determine later. Eighty percent of these funds go to border security; 20 percent go to processing and administrative costs related to the undocumented.

My amendment does not touch the 80 percent going to border security. Instead, it takes half of the processing fees--in other words, 10 percent of the $2,000 fee and the yet-to-be, unspecified fine by DHS--and redirects that money away from Federal Government administration to this fund which will help State and local governments get reimbursed.

This still leaves about $1 billion for processing and administrative costs at the Federal level. What happens with this money? Pursuant to my amendment, 25 percent goes to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, known as SCAAP, to pay for the cost of detention which our State and local governments incur.

Each year, the SCAAP program is underfunded. A 2005 GAO study documents that State and local governments get only 25 percent of their costs reimbursed through this program. A report indicates that my State of New York received even less--21 percent of their costs were compensated in 2002 and 24 percent in 2003.

The remaining 75 percent of the money collected from the fees deposited in the State Impact Assistance Account would go to States and localities to pay for the cost of providing health and education services to noncitizens. This money is allocated among the States in accordance with a funding formula based on the size and recent growth of the States' noncitizen population.

Now, to ensure that the funds actually get to the counties and cities and don't sit in State governments, my amendment also requires that at least 70 percent of those funds be passed on to localities within 180 days of the States receiving the money. States can retain the remaining 30 percent to help offset their own costs related to immigration.

I think this amendment helps us fix a problem I care a lot about as I travel around my State. Our local communities have a tradition in New York of being very welcoming. We are a State that is not only built on immigrants but very proud of that, as the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor so eloquently says. But the costs of immigration have steadily increased, and the Federal Government's neglect has strained local and State government budgets. I think if we pass any kind of immigration reform and we don't take into account the strains on the budget on State and local governments, we will not have done our job.

This amendment also helps State and local governments not only recoup some of their expenditures, but it underlines a message to communities that they are working together, they welcome people who work hard and who make a contribution and will be on the path to earned legalization.

So I hope this amendment will be supported. It has support from the National Immigration Law Center, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

I think our laws can be both fair and strict. I think we can have laws which don't shut the doors of America to people who want to make a contribution and at the same time don't really provide disincentives to communities to be part of that welcoming tradition. Balancing all of the interests in this debate is not easy, but I appreciate the efforts that are being made on this floor to wrestle with this difficult problem. I hope we will also send a message to local communities that we are here to help them because they don't set immigration policy, they don't enforce immigration laws, but they are often left holding the bag for the costs that flow because we haven't done our job.

So I hope that this amendment finds favor in this body and we send a message to our local executives and legislatures around our country that we are going to send them some help to be part of a comprehensive immigration solution.

http://thomas.loc.gov/

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