The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)

April 13, 2013

NEWS:  The FY2014 Department of Justice budget zeroes out SCAAP in the belief that the reimbursement amount is so low as to render the program ineffective.  NCSL will be working diligently to have funding restored.  For additional information on SCAAP funding, please contact Susan Frederick, Director, Law & Criminal Justice Committee, in NCSL’s Washington, DC office.


The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) reimburses state and local governments for the costs of incarcerating unauthorized immigrants.  Originally authorized by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,  the program was not funded until the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322.)
Funding for SCAAP fluctuated from $130 million in FY1995 to $565 million in FY2002, and approximately $400 million annually for FY2006 through FY2009.   Funding has decreased significantly in the past three years.   In FY 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) proposal zeroed out funding for SCAAP.  Congress appropriated $330 million, and in the following year, the DOJ budget proposed restoring SCAAP to $330 million.  Congressional appropriations decreased in FY2011 to $273 million and again in FY2012 to $240 million.  For FY2013, the President’s budget allocated $70 million; the House proposal was $165 million, and the Senate proposal was $255 million.  The final FY2013 allocation for SCAAP, after the rescission, was $238 million, acccording to the Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS).  This is approximately 18 percent of state costs.
Funding has never fully covered state costs.  In FY2011, the SCAAP reimbursement rate was approximately 23 percent of total costs submitted by state and local governments.  Subject to the annual federal appropriation, SCAAP reimburses states based on a formula grant of eligible inmate days multiplied by the per diem rate to derive the total correctional officer salary costs.  The FY2011 average per diem rate was $28.16 per inmate.  DHS verifies the eligibility of inmates for SCAAP reimbursement: persons who entered the United States without inspection; persons who were in deportation or exclusion proceedings when they were taken into custody; nonimmigrants who failed to keep their nonimmigrant status; and certain Mariel Cubans.  SCAAP reimburses costs for unauthorized immigrants who have committed felonies or at least two misdemeanor offenses for violations of state or local law, and who have been jailed for a minimum of four consecutive days.  SCAAP does not reimburse costs for housing, feeding, or providing medical care to these prisoners.
Changes in FY2012 awards:  SCAAP payments will only be made to states and localities only for those inmates that DHS can verify as illegal aliens. DHS will no longer reimburse states for “unknown” inmates (58 percent of the program in 2010).  Previously, DHS recognized that some “unknown” inmates could have been undocumented if they entered illegally and never came into contact with DHS.  DHS states the change is to make better use of limited SCAAP funding and to ensure jurisdictions are reimbursed only for known undocumented criminal aliens.
FY2012 SCAAP awards are available here.

Prepared by
Ann Morse
Program Director, Immigrant Policy Project
National Conference of  State Legislatures