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  1. #1
    Senior Member butterbean's Avatar
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    Feb 2005

    Local taxpayers stuck with bill to jail immigrants

    LINK to Story

    Local taxpayers stuck with bill to jail immigrants

    10:12 PM CST on Friday, April 1, 2005

    By TODD J. GILLMAN / The Dallas Morning News

    OLMITO, Texas – One in three prisoners at the Cameron County Jail entered the country illegally. Many will stay three or four months awaiting trial for burglary, assault, drunken driving or some other crime.

    Taxpayers here pay $36 per day to feed, clothe and guard each of these suspects. That's $460,000 per year – a fortune to the nation's poorest county.

    By law, the federal government should cover the cost of jailing people who slip through the border and then commit a crime. In reality, Washington has never spent more than a fraction of the costs.

    And for the fourth year in a row, President Bush is trying to eliminate the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, arguing that tighter border controls will eventually minimize the local burden. At a time of tight budgets, he says it's one of 150 programs the nation simply can't afford.

    At his office in Olmito, Sheriff Omar Lucio sees an administration trying to balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor.

    "Somebody's got to foot the bill. Nothing's free," he said in his office outside Brownsville. "Can you imagine what you can do with $36 a day? ... How about better roads? Better health care for the indigent and the old people?"

    At the impoverished southern tip of Texas – where colonias like Cameron Park lack running water, pavement and street lights – schools need replacing and residents need job training.

    "I don't know how they think we're going to pay for it," said the Rev. Michael Seifert, pastor at the San Felipe de Jesus Catholic Church, a few miles from the jail.

    "To say that we're needy, that's not even coming close to exaggeration," he said. "Do not get sick and live in the border counties. You will not get help. We rank right with Honduras in terms of dental care, if you don't have insurance."

    The county can't find money to operate a Boys & Girls club to keep kids out of trouble. A soccer field and recreation center is unstaffed, and with half of Cameron Park's population younger than 21, that's a problem.

    "The officials do all the fancy juggling they can, but in the end you can only go so far," Father Seifert said. "If you have to pay for the jail, the kids aren't going to have a park."

    Funding shortfalls

    Texas and more than 90 of its counties have collected more than $350 million under the Criminal Alien Assistance Program, created in 1995 on the grounds that keeping out illegal immigrants is a federal responsibility, so paying to jail them if they commit a crime is, too.

    Five years ago, the state got $59 million. Last year, it was about $25 million – a third of what it cost to detain 8,700 eligible inmates in state prisons and county jails.

    Gov. Rick Perry calls funding a top priority. He's co-signed letters to key lawmakers with the president's brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and governors in New York, California, Nevada and Arizona.

    After turning back Mr. Bush's last effort to ax the program, Congress carved out $305 million in this year's budget. That covers about a quarter of state and local costs, and it's about half the outlay five years ago.

    "It's just a scandal, really," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "I'm all for the federal government living within its means, and I support this budget. But I think part of budgeting is ... making sure you fund your priorities."

    At the White House Office of Management, communications director Noam Neusner said the program should be cut because it hasn't curtailed crime or the flow of illegal border crossings.

    "The challenge with SCAAP is that it may have very good intentions, but it simply does not demonstrate the results that we would like to see," he said.

    So, Mr. Neusner added, "we're focusing scarce taxpayer resources" on efforts more likely to yield long-term results, such as border patrols, drug interdiction and worksite enforcement of immigration laws. "All these efforts have seen major increases since 2001, and we believe these will be more effective in helping border states."

    But many lawmakers say the administration has shortchanged border enforcement, and that either way, the program should be expanded, not scrapped.

    Fighting for money

    The U.S. Mexico Border Coalition – 24 counties from Brownsville to San Diego – is fighting hard for funding, as is the Congressional Border Caucus, led by U.S. Reps. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, and Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio.

    Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., are pushing for $750 million next year, rising to $950 million a year after 2008.

    Last Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding resolution from Ms. Feinstein to put $750 million in next year's budget. But the House has yet to make any commitment.

    And that would only be enough to cover the full costs in one state, California, where one in 10 inmates entered the country illegally. Last year, Los Angeles County alone spent $100 million on such inmates and got back $14 million.

    Earlier this month, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, sent the U.S. attorney general a bill for $118 million to cover the last year and a half.

    "Hope springs eternal," she said. "We're housing 4,000 illegal aliens who've committed crimes in Arizona. We're supposed to be paid the cost of those individuals, or at least have the feds take custody of them. So I sent him an invoice."

    Some border-state officials grumble that Mr. Bush used to be on their side. In 1995, as a candidate for governor, he vowed to press ahead with a lawsuit brought by the state's Democratic attorney general, Dan Morales, seeking $1.34 billion from Washington to jail and educate illegal immigrants.

    "It's not fair to the taxpayers of Texas to stick them with the bill when the government fails to enforce immigration laws," Bush adviser and spokeswoman Karen Hughes told reporters at the time.

    He reiterated that stance in Sept. 1999 as a presidential candidate.

    Now, some lawmakers say, Mr. Bush is playing a time-honored budget game, knowing that support is too broad for the program to die. Aides deny that.

    "Cut funding for those programs you know Congress will restore, and your budget looks good," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. But he added, "It's a clear federal responsibility."

    'There's huge needs'

    Nathan Selzer of Proyecto Libertad, an immigrant advocacy group in the Valley, called it unfortunate that U.S. law criminalizes the "victimless, nonviolent" act of crossing a border to find work.

    But because changes to the immigration policy won't happen overnight, he said, forcing local taxpayers to shoulder the burden isn't fair, either.

    He cited education, job training, a shortage of rural ambulance service and a "tremendous neglect of the infrastructure."

    "Our community is one of the poorest communities in the United States. There's huge needs," he said.

    At the Cameron County jail, Sheriff Lucio had 576 inmates at last count.

    Two years ago the Justice Department made it harder for counties to collect on these inmates. Previously, jails could seek repayment for every day behind bars. Under the new rules, eligibility kicks in only after conviction on a felony or two misdemeanors.

    So if someone is charged with a single misdemeanor, or plea-bargains a felony to a misdemeanor, the county gets nothing.

    These scenarios are common, the sheriff said, and it's doubly frustrating. Because within hours of booking, the Border Patrol checks on each suspect and a notation goes into the file of any illegal immigrant. Bail isn't allowed, even on the sort of minor charge for which an American citizen might be freed after a day or two.

    "We deserve to get paid for anyone who's brought here, even if it's one misdemeanor," Sheriff Lucio said. "Aren't they the ones supposed to be stopping all these illegal aliens from coming here? Once they come out here, they become everybody's problem."

    One in three is an illegal immigrant! I wouldn't want to live in Olmito Texas! It's an outrage that Americans have to pay for these criminals to 'vacation' at our expense. We pick up the tab for their rooms, food, lounge chairs, refreshments, and healthcare. It's ridiculous!


    Edit: Link by Mr_Magoo
    RIP Butterbean! We miss you and hope you are well in heaven.-- Your ALIPAC friends

    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    It's interesting that we have 300 BILLION to rebuilt the infrastructure of Irag ( one of the wealthiest nations in the world when they start exporting their oil again)...we have 900 million plus the original 335 million for tsuami relief in Asia...But...when it gets around to America...ooopps..sorry, we have little or nothing.

    In this case, bill MEXICO!

    The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. " - Lloyd Jones

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 1970


    One more indignity, another log on the fire,
    Oh my Patriot heart, of this, does tire,
    May I point and enquire,
    where Butterbean in this Nation does hail?
    you too have the BUG, and will not quail.
    in this our task We will not Fail.

  4. #4
    Senior Member butterbean's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Re: geeze!

    Quote Originally Posted by naturalglenn
    One more indignity, another log on the fire,
    Oh my Patriot heart, of this, does tire,
    May I point and enquire,
    where Butterbean in this Nation does hail?
    you too have the BUG, and will not quail.
    in this our task We will not Fail.
    Of this I'm sure, you have spent some time,
    To spew out some words, in order to rhyme,
    But what pray tell, do your senseless words mean,
    And what on earth, does it have to do with Butterbean
    RIP Butterbean! We miss you and hope you are well in heaven.-- Your ALIPAC friends

    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

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