The Trump administration threatens to cut off funds for things like reimbursing sheriffs for detaining alleged illegal immigrants. Critics wonder if the state needs the money.,
A fight over federal police funding is taking center stage in the battle over whether California will become the nation’s first “sanctuary state,” The Intercept reports. The California legislature is poised to enact a proposal that is the strongest legislative effort yet to enshrine sanctuary protection in the state by curbing local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials. The Trump administration has threatened that if the law is enacted, the state will be cut off from a range of law enforcement grant money. California Democrats have declared that any move to cut off the spigot of federal policing funds is an attempt at blackmailing the state.
Lost in the conversation is a question few have raised: Is the federal money necessary for public safety? Take the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which is one of the programs California risks losing access to if the sanctuary state bill is passed into law. SCAAP allows municipalities to partially bill the federal government when detaining immigrants who have been previously convicted of at least one felony or two misdemeanors. While the program, which dispersed over $50 million to California sheriffs in the 2016 fiscal year, the most of any state, has been portrayed as a necessary program for law enforcement, some experts are skeptical. Angela Chan of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus said the stream of money to county sheriffs meant that state law enforcement was effectively profiteering from ICE. “What that means is that if I’m a law enforcement agency and I run a jail and have to fund that jail, the federal government will pay me if I arrest an undocumented immigrant for a felony but not a citizen,” said Lena Graber of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “So the incentives are really disgusting.”