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[Congressional Record: January 24, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
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
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.
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
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