Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) announced that she and 66 of her colleagues in the House of Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder opposing a recent U.S. Department of Justice decision that will lead to further budget cuts to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), a federal law enforcement program that provides local governments with funding to help offset a portion of the cost of incarcerating undocumented criminals.
The letter specifically asks the Attorney General to reconsider and delay a Bureau of Justice Assistance announcement to discontinue SCAAP payments to local governments for inmates whose immigration status is "unknown" or are not listed in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database. Collectively, this change will dramatically reduce California counties' SCAAP payments and negatively impact counties' budgets, particularly as they continue the process of implementing the public safety mandates included in the State's budget package.
With budgets at the state, county, and local levels continuing to tighten, federal funding is more important than ever for maintaining critical public services, especially law enforcement," said Congresswoman Capps. "Making this major change without first ensuring our county's have the necessary tools and resources in place to process "unknowns' is reckless and dangerous. We know SCAAP makes a difference in our communities and that's why it has bipartisan support at all levels of government. Sheriff Bill Brown and Sheriff Ian Parkinson have made clear how important these federal resources are to protecting the public's safety on the Central Coast. I'll keep the pressure on the Attorney General to delay this unilateral decision and work with my colleagues to come up with a solution that allows county jails to process these "unknown' criminal aliens in a timely and accessible manner."
If the Justice Department's new SCAAP reimbursement criteria had been in place for the 2010 application period, California counties would have seen awards drop by nearly 50 percent, from $40.8 million to $21.8 million. Under this scenario, for example, Santa Barbara County would expect a 25 percent reduction in SCAAP funding from its 2010 levels, amounting to a cut of $191,608.
Last year, Capps stood with Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson to highlight the importance of SCAAP funding and how it helps local law enforcement protect the public's safety on the Central Coast.