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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARTER. I thank the chair for yielding to me.

I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues the recent change made by the Department of Justice to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, also known as SCAAP.

While this program is under the jurisdiction of the DOJ, it is a consequence of the Federal Government's failure to secure our borders, which is why I bring it up during this debate.

SCAAP reimburses States and counties for part of the cost of incarcerating undocumented criminal aliens. I want to emphasize that this program does not come close to fully reimbursing our States or our counties for the full cost of incarcerating these individuals.

Recently, DOJ announced that they will offer no reimbursement for what they consider to be unknown documented aliens. Being an unknown documented alien simply means that DHS has no information on that individual, a designation that would apply to a majority of the illegal aliens in this country. For example, when the sheriff in my home county picks up someone for aggravated assault and, in accordance with the Secure Communities Checks, the Federal database, if this person has never been processed by DHS, they will be considered unknown documented aliens and therefore ineligible to be reimbursed for any part of the cost of the incarceration under this new rule.

I would like to point out this change disproportionately affects counties over States, both of which are eligible for reimbursement under SCAAP.

The county jail is the first point of contact with the criminal justice system for many illegal aliens, so there is no background on the individual. These inmates are also typically held for a shorter period of time, making it difficult for them to be processed by the Federal Government before they are transferred to a State institution after they are convicted. This change has much less impact on the States as they typically hold inmates for a much longer period of time, giving them plenty of opportunity to be processed by ICE agents who are typically located at the State prisons, a luxury the counties do not have.

If these changes were implemented in 2010, Williamson County, my home county, would have received $90,000 less than their full payment for that year, which is only about $150,000, and which is only a small portion of the overall cost of incarcerating these individuals. That's a lot of money for a moderately sized county in Texas. The impact on larger counties would be much greater.

I do not think that our counties should be punished for the Federal Government's failure to secure our borders and process undocumented aliens in an acceptable timeframe.

Now, I would like to commend Chairman Aderholt for prioritizing the frontline operations by funding Border Patrol agents and CBP agents at the highest levels in history. I would like to propose to the chairman that we work together with these Agencies to find a solution to this problem.

In the meantime, I will be writing a letter to the Justice Department, along with my friend and colleague, Congressman Honda of California, to ask the Department to delay this change while we work to find a solution that will not punish our counties for the failures of the Federal Government.


Mr. CARTER. This amendment seeks to cut critical funds for enforcing our Nation's immigration laws. Those laws are important to be enforced.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment. I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, this amendment slashes immigration enforcement and will result in laying off many, many ICE agents and potentially releasing dangerous criminal aliens from custody.

Now, the gentleman's argument is interesting. His argument seems to be that if you fire the enforcing officers and legalize the criminals, you're not going to have a problem. Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman, but that's not the way it operates. When you break the law, you have to face the consequences. And we need the enforcement officers to go out and assist us enforcing the law.

Whether or not the immigration law is broken--I happen to agree that it is broken. We might not necessarily agree on how to fix it, but I agree that it is broken. Because I agree we have porous borders. But I believe the ICE people are doing the very best they can. Quite honestly, I'm shocked that the solution to a criminal problem is fire the law enforcement officers. And that's not good policy under anybody's thinking.

Supposedly, those who object are not thinking straight. Well, I would argue the contrary is the case in this particular argument.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, again, it's never been a solution for failed enforcement to fire all the police officers and get rid of them and then hope it will all work out. Without speaking to the criticisms of the gentleman, the terrorist threat is still real. This is an agency that has that duty and responsibility. To zero them out and lay them all off would not be productive in stopping criminal activity in the United States, and for that reason I oppose the gentleman's amendment.


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