DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers criticized President Barack Obama’s decision this week to eliminate the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program in an effort to cut roughly $400 million out of the federal budget.
“The State Criminal Assistance Program is one of the important ways the federal government helps states pay for enforcing federal immigration law and incarcerating illegal immigrants,” Suthers said. “There are plenty of other programs that deserve to be cut instead. It’s the federal government’s lack of effective enforcement of its immigration laws that is causing the states to incur this enormous expense. To now cut off the states from any reimbursement is irresponsible.”
Suthers said there are numerous pork-barrel projects, earmarks and social programs that could be cut out of the federal budget to achieve equal or greater savings instead of targeting the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which provides states money to defray the cost of imprisoning illegal immigrants.
The Office of the Attorney General requested last year that Colorado’s congressional delegation work to better fund the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. In his Aug. 18, 2008 letter, Suthers wrote: “On behalf of Colorado I would ask you to make increased efforts to assist Colorado in meeting the immense financial burdens caused by inadequate enforcement of the federal immigration laws.”
According to a 2008 analysis of Colorado’s corrections budget, Colorado spent more than $44.9 million during fiscal year 2006-2007 to incarcerate illegal immigrants. Colorado only received $3.3 million in reimbursement from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program that year.
“The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program deserves to be better funded, not cut,” Suthers said. “Colorado’s congressional delegation should fight the president’s budget maneuver, which is, simply put, an evasion of responsibility.”