Posted on June 16, 2005

Criminal Immigrants Strain Judicial System

Troy Anderson, Pasadena Star-News, June 14

Despite the soaring cost of incarcerating criminal immigrants nationwide, the federal government has reduced its reimbursements to state and local governments, two new reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found.

California spent $635 million in 2003 to incarcerate criminal immigrants in state prisons, but received only $77 million in reimbursements from the federal government, the reports show. The Los Angeles County jail system spent $55 million housing undocumented immigrants in 2003, but received only $14 million in reimbursements.

“It’s a tremendous burden for the taxpayers of Los Angeles County and we would put the figure more at about $80 million (a year),’ Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Tuesday. “It is a federal problem that is not funded federally. It is funded by the taxpayers of Los Angeles County.’

The issue has gained the attention of U.S. senators from California, Arizona and Texas, who are demanding that Washington chip in $6.4 billion to cover the costs of jailing undocumented criminals.