Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep. McSally Acts to Address Border Sheriff Needs, Introduces Bill to Reimburse Border States for Incarcerating Criminals

July 13, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Representative Martha McSally, in direct response to meetings with border Sheriffs in Arizona, this week introduced legislation to reauthorize the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) which will ensure that the federal government reimburses state and local governments for incarcerating unlawfully present individuals who have committed crimes in the United States.

“Arizona is on the front lines of protecting our nation and communities from drug cartels and human trafficking. The federal government cannot pass off the cost of incarcerating these criminals onto states like ours,” said Congresswoman McSally. “Arizona Sheriffs along our southwest border are doing a praiseworthy job, but they need more support from the federal government. Since 2009, Arizona counties have absorbed more than $310 million for these types of expenditures. Taxpayers along the border should not have to foot the federal government’s bill—diverting local resources away from other law enforcement priorities. This bill would help set this right.”

Last week, Congresswoman McSally, Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Border and Maritime Subcommittee, convened a meeting with all four Sheriffs serving along Arizona’s southwest border to solicit their perspectives. In addition to calling for a blend of methods to secure the border and support the ports of entry, the Sheriffs expressed their need to be reimbursed for the cost of taking care of business that is clearly the federal government’s responsibility.

“SCAAP provides critical dollars to Arizona’s counties that help pay for the cost of housing and caring for the inmates while they are in our custody,” wrote Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels in a letter supporting this legislation, authored by the Arizona Sheriffs Association. “Arizona’s counties continue to struggle under the fiscal strain of anemic growth in rural areas and cost-shifts from the State of Arizona…any financial assistance the federal government can appropriate to help pay for the costs of caring for these inmates will allow Arizona’s Sheriffs to concentrate on other important priorities, such as drug interdiction and search and rescue.”

“The taxpayers of Pima County are shouldering this burden because the federal government has not seen through its responsibility to provide a secure border. I am thankful to Congresswoman McSally for quickly acting to address the needs and concerns of our community,” said Pima County Sheriff Napier.

“All 15 Arizona Sheriffs absorb millions of dollars each year housing ‘criminal illegal aliens’ who have victimized our citizens by committing State Crimes. We don't get those dollars back,” said Leon Wilmot, Yuma County Sheriff. “Reauthorizing SCAAP would be a significant help to the Arizona Sheriffs, and I am grateful for Congresswoman McSally’s leadership on this matter, which is important to border communities like ours.”

By law, the federal government is responsible for incarcerating individuals who are unlawfully present and have committed crimes during their time in the United States. When that is not possible, the law requires the federal government to reimburse state and local governments for that cost. SCAAP is the grant program that makes those reimbursements, and this bill reauthorizes the program through fiscal year 2021.

Funding for SCAAP has fluctuated greatly since it was originally authorized in 1986, peaking at $565 million in fiscal year 2002, and most recently dropping to $210 million in fiscal year 2017. On April 4th Rep. McSally and thirty-four other members of Congress authored a letter asking Congressional appropriators to ensure that sufficient funds were allocated to SCAAP so local law enforcement could be rightfully reimbursed. Read that letter HERE.