DECEMBER 15, 2009
The $1.1 trillion spending bill recently approved by Congress—and expected to be signed by the president shortly—includes nearly $4 billion in wasteful earmarks yet the measure severely slashes crucial state funds to jail illegal immigrants charged with crimes.
Under the plan states will lose tens of millions of federal dollars to incarcerate criminally charged illegal aliens, many of them violent repeat offenders. In all, the federal government will give states nearly 20% less—about $70 million—for the cost of locking up illegal aliens though it will fund more than 5,000 pet projects, including abortions and a needle exchange in the District of Columbia.
States annually receive the federal allocation through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which President Obama is working to eliminate. Killing the crucial program would represent a huge burden on counties in border states that annually dish out tens of millions of dollars to jail illegal immigrants. Among them is California, which will lose $16 million this year and $22 million on an annualized basis starting next year. The Golden State annually spends nearly $1 billion to incarcerate illegal aliens and major counties, such as Los Angeles, spend about $95 million per year.
But the influential pro La Raza members of congress have long worked to stop funding the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program so that states can no longer afford to lock up illegal immigrants. At a House Homeland Security Committee meeting just last week, committee Vice-Chair Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat who has long advocated for illegal aliens, said she was “more concerned about the cost of incarcerating people and what type of people we’re incarcerating.”
It’s not like federal lawmakers couldn’t find the money to keep criminal aliens off the streets. After all, they just approved a measure that contains 5,224 earmarks costing about $3.9 billion for frivolous things like theater renovations ($750,000), botanical garden improvements ($400,000) and a farmer’s market ($250,000) in Kentucky. The legislation brings total earmarks in this year’s spending bills to 7,577 at a cost of about $6 billion. Clearly, Obama has not brought much change to Washington.
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