States asking Congress for aid to help them cover the cost of services they provide to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., reports Stateline.org. The Senate-passed immigration bill would raise an estimated $7.5 billion from fees imposed on immigrants seeking legalization to reimburse states. Separately, states want Congress to continue a program zeroed out in President Bush's fiscal 2007 budget proposal that allots hundreds of millions of dollar for law enforcement costs generated by illegal border crossers.
The Senate provision would create funding only for health care and education costs of illegal immigrants and would not help with another law enforcement costs, such as the incarceration of undocumented immigrants. Though the federal government provides funding in the form of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), state advocates say the money is far from enough. The Bush budget plan included no funding for SCAAP, but lawmakers likely will earmark about $400 million, which doesn't come close to covering states' costs. The federal government significantly underfunds state expenses for incarcerating illegal immigrants, said an April 2005 Government Accountability Office report. California, Arizona, Florida, and New York – with some of the largest estimated immigrant populations – received only a quarter of the necessary funding to cover those costs, GAO said.