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[Congressional Record: January 24, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S527-S552]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

      By Mr. KYL (for himself, Mr. McCain, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. 
        Domenici, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Bingaman, and Mrs. Boxer):
  S. 169. A bill to provide Federal reimbursement for indirect costs 
relating to the incarceration of illegal criminal aliens and for 
emergency health services furnished to undocumented aliens; to the 
Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I rise today to reintroduce the State 
Criminal Alien Assistance Program II and Local Medical Emergency 
Reimbursement Act. Senators McCain, Hutchison, Gramm, Domenici, 
Bingaman, Feinstein, and Boxer join me. This bill, which is identical 
to the bill I introduced in the 106th Congress, will be of great 
importance to Arizona's future fiscal soundness and that of the other 
southwest border states.
  The bill will reimburse states and localities for the costs they 
incur to process criminal illegal aliens through their criminal justice 
systems. It will also provide reimbursement for the uncompensated care 
that states, localities, and hospitals provide, as required by federal 
law, to undocumented aliens for medical emergencies.
  It is unclear what the true expense for providing these services is, 
but it is believed to be even greater than the level of reimbursement 
provided for in the bill we introduce today. Title I of our bill will 
provide $200 million each year for four years for the criminal justice 
costs associated with processing criminal illegal aliens. Title II will 
provide $200 million each year for four years for the costs that 
states, localities, and hospitals incur to provide emergency medical 
treatment to undocumented aliens.
  We will soon have a better idea of what these overwhelming costs are 
to those jurisdictions clearly affected, the local border communities 
in Arizona, Texas, California, and New Mexico. Last year I successfully 
secured funding for a study which should be completed this week and 
will detail the expenses that border communities in all four southwest 
states incur to process criminal aliens. The Arizona portion is already 
complete. In the four border counties of Arizona, $18 million in 
unreimbursed costs are incurred to process criminal illegal aliens.
  Preventing illegal immigration is the responsibility of the Federal 
Government. When it fails to protect our borders from illegal 
immigration, it has a responsibility to reimburse jurisdictions that 
provide federally-mandated services that (1) protect citizens and legal 
residents from criminal illegal aliens, or (2) provide emergency 
medical attention to undocumented immigrants. These two services have a 
tremendous effect on the budgets of these relatively small 
jurisdictions. When illegal immigrants commit crimes and are then 
caught, they drain the budgets of a locality's sheriff, detention 
facilities, justice court, county attorney, clerk of the court, 
superior and juvenile court, and juvenile detention departments, as 
well as the county's indigent defense budget. States and local 
jurisdictions all along the southwestern border have incurred 100 
percent of these processing-related costs to date. Our bill will change 
  Another study I was able to secure funding for in the 106th Congress 
will soon begin. That study will detail the overwhelming, and again 
unreimbursed, costs that certain localities

[[Page S541]]

and hospitals are incurring to treat illegal immigrants for medical 
emergencies. The federal government is obligated to fully reimburse 
states, localities, and hospitals for the emergency medical treatment 
of illegal immigrants.
  According to a preliminary Congressional Budget Office estimate 
provided two years ago, the total annual cost to treat illegal 
immigrants for medical emergencies is roughly $2.8 billion a year. It 
is roughly estimated that the federal government reimburses states for 
approximately half of that amount. That means states must pay the 
remaining $1.4 billion. The state of Arizona estimates that it incurs 
unreimbursed costs of $30 million annually to treat undocumented 
immigrants on an emergency basis.
  The bill we introduce today will provide states, localities, and 
hospitals an additional $200 million per year to help absorb the costs 
of adhering to Federal law, which mandates that all individuals, 
regardless of immigration status or ability to pay, must be provided 
with medical treatment in a medical emergency.
  Mr. President, I hope we can address these very pressing issues in 
the coming months, and that Members will consider joining my cosponsors 
and me in support of this bill.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I rise today in support of legislation 
Senator Kyl and I are introducing with a number of our border-state 
colleagues to provide appropriate Federal reimbursement to states and 
localities whose budgets are disproportionately affected by the costs 
associated with illegal immigration. The premise of our bill, and of 
current law governing this type of federal reimbursement to the states, 
is that controlling illegal immigration is principally the 
responsibility of the Federal government, not the states.
  Our legislation would expand the amount and scope of federal funding 
to the states for incarceration and medical costs that arise from the 
detention or treatment of illegal immigrants. Such funding currently 
flows to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. 
territories. In Fiscal Year 2000, approximately 360 local jurisdictions 
across the United States applied for these Federal monies. Although our 
bill gives special consideration to border States and States with 
unusually high concentrations of illegal aliens in residence, it would 
benefit communities across the nation. It deserves the Senate's prompt 
consideration and approval.
  Many of my colleagues are probably not aware that the Federal 
Government, under the existing State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, 
SCAAP, reimburses states and counties burdened by illegal immigration 
for less than 40 percent of eligible alien incarceration costs. Many 
border counties estimate that between one-quarter and one-third of 
their criminal justice budgets are spent processing criminal aliens. In 
my State of Arizona, Santa Cruz County spent 33 percent of its total 
criminal justice budget in Fiscal Year 1999 to process criminal illegal 
aliens, of which over half was not reimbursed by the Federal 
Government. Arizona's Cochise County spent roughly 32 percent of its 
total law enforcement and criminal justice budget to apprehend and 
process criminal illegal aliens but received Federal payments to cover 
fewer than half of these costs. Similar shortfalls in Federal funding 
plague states and counties all along our border with Mexico.
  The legislation we are introducing today would actually expand the 
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program by authorizing funding for 
state and local needs that currently go unmet. Although states receive 
Federal reimbursement for part of the cost of incarcerating illegal 
adult aliens, the Federal Government does not reimburse states or units 
of local government for expenditures for illegal juvenile aliens. Nor 
does it reimburse states and localities for costs associated with 
processing criminal illegal aliens, including court costs, county 
attorney costs, costs for criminal proceedings that do not involve 
going to trial, indigent defense costs, and unsupervised probation 
costs. Our legislation would authorize the Federal Government to 
reimburse such costs to States and localities that suffer a 
substantially disproportionate share of the impact of criminal illegal 
aliens on their law enforcement and criminal justice systems. It would 
also authorize additional Federal reimbursement for emergency health 
services furnished by states and localities to undocumented aliens.
  Reimbursement to States and localities for criminal alien 
incarceration is woefully underfunded according to the existing limited 
criteria for SCAAP, which do not take into account the full detention 
and processing costs for illegal aliens. Nor does the existing SCAAP 
provide necessary support to local communities for the cost of 
emergency care for illegal immigrants, a growing problem in the 
Southwest, and one exacerbated by the increasingly desperate measures 
taken by undocumented aliens to cross our border with Mexico. Our 
legislation thus authorizes the expansion of SCAAP to cover costs 
wrongly borne by local communities under current law--costs which are a 
Federal responsibility and should not be shirked by those in 
  As my colleagues know, illegal immigrants who successfully transit 
our Southwest border rapidly disperse throughout the United States. 
That SCAAP funds flow to all 50 States reflects the pressures such 
aliens place on public services around the country. I hope the Senate 
will act expeditiously on this important legislation to alleviate those 
pressures by compensating state and local units for the costs they 
incur as unwitting hosts to undocumented aliens, even as we continue to 
fund border enforcement measures to reduce the flow of illegal 
immigrants into this country.



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