Subsidizing Sanctuaries: The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program
The Department of Justice annually awards millions of dollars in grants to local governments to compensate for the cost of jailing illegal aliens, even when those governments have policies obstructing immigration law enforcement or encouraging illegal settlement. In 2010, the grant program, known as the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), doled out a total of roughly $400 million to about 850 cities, counties, and states.
Among them were 27 jurisdictions widely considered to be sanctuary jurisdictions, which together received more than $62.6 million, or 15.6 percent of the total (see Table 1). For example, the 2010 SCAAP grantees include some jurisdictions — such as San Francisco, Chicago, Santa Clara County, Calif., and Arlington, Va. — that are trying to opt-out of Secure Communities, the program that automatically flags criminal aliens for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attention at the time they are booked into jail.
This is a nonsensical situation. These jurisdictions, some of which are home to the largest concentrations of illegal aliens in their state, have policies in place designed to impede federal immigration law enforcement — and yet year after year they ask the federal government to reimburse them for costs associated with a problem that their own policies make worse.
And the Department of Justice, the nation’s chief law enforcement agency, is making cash grants to jurisdictions that deliberately inhibit a sister agency, ICE, from doing its top-priority job of finding and removing illegal alien criminals.