Senate Panel OKs Funds for Jailing Illegal Immigrants

Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2009

Congress appeared poised Thursday to continue compensating state and local governments for incarcerating illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, ignoring President Obama’s call to eliminate such payments.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to provide $228 million nationwide next year, acting a week after the House voted to allocate $400 million, the same as this year.

Once the full Senate acts, negotiators from both chambers will meet to reconcile their differences.

California, which receives about 40% of the money, still could end up with less than it received this year.

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will try to persuade congressional negotiators to provide the full $400 million, said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance.

But Palmer said the governor still wanted to turn over some of the 19,000 illegal immigrants in state prisons to federal authorities for deportation to help close the state’s budget gap.

California receives only a fraction of the nearly $1 billion it expects to spend imprisoning illegal immigrants this year. Los Angeles County alone spends about $100 million.

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