John Suthers (R)
DENVER, Colo. (Legal Newsline) - Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama's erred when he decided this week to eliminate a federal immigration program.
Suthers, a Republican, said the president should have left the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program intact when he was seeking to trim the federal budget.
The program provides states money to defray the cost of imprisoning illegal immigrants on charges other than immigration violations.
"The State Criminal Assistance Program is one of the important ways the federal government helps states pay for enforcing federal immigration law and incarcerating illegal immigrants," Suthers said.
"There are plenty of other programs that deserve to be cut instead."
In all, Obama has proposed $17 billion in federal budget cuts for his fiscal year 2010 budget plan.
Suthers, who has criticized Washington in the past over its immigration policies, said Friday it is the federal government's "lack of effective enforcement" that is causing the states to incur expense by having to jail illegal immigrants.
"To now cut off the states from any reimbursement is irresponsible," he said, noting that the president should have cut a bevy of so-called pork barrel projects and lawmaker-requested earmarks to achieve savings for taxpayers.
The attorney general's office said, citing state budget figures, that Colorado spent more than $44.9 million during fiscal year 2006-07 to incarcerate illegal immigrants. The state received $3.3 million in reimbursement under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for that period.
"The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program deserves to be better funded, not cut," Suthers said. "Colorado's congressional delegation should fight the president's budget maneuver, which is, simply put, an evasion of responsibility."
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.