By Laura Nicholes
TAC Legislative Staff
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has postponed a policy decision that would have discontinued State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) payments for inmates whose immigration status is "unknown."
"The delay of this change will provide a significant opportunity for local governments to work collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to improve local processes for detainee identification, in anticipation of discontinuing payments for unknown inmates next year; and SCAAP grantees are strongly encouraged to work collaboratively with the DHS in order to increase their inmate alien status verifications," according to the DOJ.
The DOJ’s prior attempt to discontinue payments would have caused a significant change to the FY2012 reimbursement formula which heavily impacts counties and would have shifted local reimbursements to others, such as the state of Texas, for housing undocumented criminal aliens in state-run prisons.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) reports that, in response to the policy decision, “numerous counties immediately argued that this proposal negatively and disproportionately impacted many local governments across the nation” and called upon the DOJ to "postpone the elimination of reimbursements for the unknown category of SCAAP inmates for one year, which includes the payment of FY 2012 SCAAP awards."
NACo also notes in its Sept. 14 Legislative Bulletin
that counties utilizing DHS’s Secure Communities Program, the 287(g) Program, and/or the Law Enforcement Support Center are still experiencing a large number of “unknown” inmates in local jails and have yet to see any significant decreases.
TAC first covered the DOJ’s policy decision in the June 20 edition of County Issues.