Texas County Demands Fed Payback for Jailing Illegal Aliens

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file

The Texas county judge in the state’s fourth most populated county is demanding that the federal government reimburse it after spending $22.3 million jailing criminal illegal aliens. He also wants money to cover future costs.

The federal “State Criminal Alien Assistance Program” (SCAAP) requires that the county report criminal illegal aliens that have been housed in jail for four or more days.

The demand comes after President Donald Trump signed executive orders to withhold federal monies from sanctuary cities, temporarily halt refugees from any country for 120 days, and block travel from seven Muslim-majority nations.

“We have decided to be compliant in working with immigration services, and so we turn over all that data to them. But the fact of the matter is they don’t pick them up right away and we continue to incur that cost,” Bexar County (San Antonio) Judge Nelson Wolff told the local ABC affiliate. Wolff is the county judge of the 17th most populated county in the United States.

A few days ago, Wolff wrote letters to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requesting that the federal government completely reimburse the county for costs incurred over the last 12 years for housing criminal illegal aliens, reported San Antonio-Express News.

The letter begins:

Bexar County complies with federal laws associated with detainment of undocumented immigrants. The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) requires Bexar County to report undocumented inmates that have been housed for four or more consecutive days in the Bexar County Adult Detention Center and have either one felony offense or two misdemeanor offenses within one fiscal year. Under the terms of the SCAAP agreement, Bexar County was to be reimbursed for holding federal immigration detainees.

The Express-News reported that Wolff said, “The topic has come up about immigration and state funding … I thought it was time to make it public of how much it costs local governments. It’s not just a theoretical issue, it’s an expensive issue.”

The county judge was reported to say that he will continue to comply with the law even if the county does not receive reimbursement.

Wolff wrote in his letter, “Bexar County is willing to comply with federal immigration laws, but this has created a large burden on local property taxpayers that should be paid for by the federal government.” He added, “This burden on local government violates the principles of the SCAPP agreement.”

The unfunded mandates by the federal government have become even more underfunded, reported the San Antonio area paper citing a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. When the SCAAP first began in 1995, Congress put aside $130 million for the program, and between 2006 and 2009, that allocation was $400 million a year. The funding has decreased to $238 million, which covers roughly 18 percent of the costs to local jails.

SCAAP payments are not made where local and state entities cannot verify that those jailed are illegal aliens. Costs for “unknown” inmates are not reimbursed. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, this accounted for 58 percent of the program in 2010.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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