[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] on Thursday proposed $17 billion in cuts to the fiscal year 2010 federal budget, including cutting $400 million [proposals, PDF] from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) [program website]. SCAAP is a program that subsidizes state and local governments for the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens who commit crimes, and Obama's proposed cut would effectively eliminate the program. The White House said the cut was made because the $400 million could be better spent by the federal government to enhance federal immigration programs, specifically:
In place of SCAAP, the Administration proposes a comprehensive border enforcement strategy that supports resources for a comprehensive approach to enforcement along the Nation's borders that combines law enforcement and prosecutorial efforts to investigate arrest, detain, and prosecute illegal immigrants and other criminals. The initiative also enhances the Department's ability to track fugitives from justice, combat gunrunners and illegal drug traffickers.
Cutting the SCAAP budget is the latest action from the Obama administration aimed at altering US immigration policy. In April, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed former federal prosecutor Alan Bersin [JURIST report] as assistant secretary for international affairs and special representative for border affairs to oversee illegal immigration and anti-crime efforts along US borders. These changes may be related to two recently released reports, one by the Associated Press that the US is detaining a record number [JURIST report] of illegal immigrants and a second by the Cardozo School of Law that summarized the Bush administration immigration policies as ineffective [JURIST report].