By Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino Staff Writer
Created: 05/26/2011 09:48:29 PM PDT
In the light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating release of 33,000 criminals in the next two years, two lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging the federal government to intervene.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, this week sent a “2010 invoice” for $885,039,426 to President Barack Obama asking him to pay up or take custody of 17,000 illegal immigrants from state prisons.
“This is a catastrophe in the making,” said Donnelly, who also represents Claremont and La Verne. “They are a federal responsibility. This is a way for us to cut our damage in half and to protect California.
Skipping the political theatrics, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has also sought the reimbursement from the federal government through a reauthorization bill. It would provide $950 million for each of the fiscal years 2012 through 2015 to carry out the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.
SCAAP, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, provides federal payments to states and localities for correctional officers’ salaries for incarcerating illegal criminal aliens.
In 2010, SCAAP doled out a roughly $400 million to 850 cities, counties and states, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan research organization.
California is the nation’s biggest recipient of SCAAP funds.
“The state has spent over $885 million to house these inmates, but last year we got reimbursed only $88 million,” Donnelly said. “That’s less than 10 cents for every dollar spent.”
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation holds in custody 16,829 inmates who are under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.
An additional 3,844 are under “potential” ICE hold – deemed possible illegal entrants who have not come into contact with Department of Homeland Security and have no record in the federal database.
Of those on an ICE hold, 1,042 are serving time for first- degree murder, 1,912 for robbery and 616 for rape.
The California Institution for Men in Chino houses 292 illegal immigrants on ICE holds and another 119 inmates with potential holds.
California Institution for Women also in Chino, houses 67 inmates with ICE holds and 34 with a potential holds.
At California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, 469 inmates have ICE holds – every fourth person jailed. Another 97 have potential holds.
In addition to those housed at state prisons, county jails across the state take care of 12,031 inmates who will be turned over to ICE for deportation upon completion of their sentence.
Last year, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department booked 4,050 inmates who had ICE holds. From January to April of this year, another 1,132 were added.
Making a bad situation worse is Obama’s proposal to cut funding for inmates with potential ICE holds, Donnelly said.
In fiscal year 2012, “The president’s budget request for SCAAP includes a requirement that payments only be made for costs associated with DHS verified, criminal aliens,” according to the Bureau of Justice Assistance. “To prepare for this change, SCAAP jurisdictions are strongly encouraged to work closely with DHS to increase inmate alien status verifications.”
In his letter to Obama, Donnelly stated that it now falls on the president to protect the people of California.
“We are working and will continue to work to restore our prison conditions, but we will not accept an order that sacrifices the safety and security of Californians in the process,” Donnelly said.
“It is past time to either fully fund the SCAAP or take the illegal-immigrant inmates into federal custody for the duration of their sentences. The hypocrisy must end.”
Perhaps the feds are listening.
A correctional institution in Adelanto is on its way to becoming a federal holding facility that will temporarily house mostly illegal immigrants and bring about 150 jobs to Adelanto, officials said last week.
The city sold the 650-bed facility to Florida-based GEO Group in June 2010 for
$28 million. The company then negotiated a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with the city acting as the transaction’s agent, to turn the jail into a holding facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, city officials said.
“This facility is essentially for anybody that ICE has to hold,” Adelanto City Manager Jim Hart said. “Most of these inmates will be immigration holds.”
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