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San Antonio News

Congressman Introduces DIRE Act to Reauthorize Funding for Detaining Criminal Aliens

Sheriff Jim Skinner, Congressman Tony Gonzales and Sheriff Brian Hawthorne

Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23) has introduced the Detain Illegals until Repatriated or Expelled (DIRE) Act, aiming to reauthorize the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). This program entails federal payments to reimburse states and localities for costs linked with incarcerating undocumented criminal aliens who have committed at least one felony or two misdemeanor convictions.

“One criminal alien running loose in our communities is one too many, and yet—this year alone—thousands have crossed our border illegally. Though our state and local law enforcement work hard to arrest these bad actors, they often get stuck with the bill for jailing them. Why should our sheriffs have to pay out of pocket for doing their jobs right?” Congressman Tony Gonzales stated. “My bill would ensure a steady stream of federal funding to reimburse our law enforcement for keeping criminals off our streets.”

Sheriff Brian Hawthorne of Chambers County, who also serves as the Legislative Chair of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, emphasized the significant impact of the bill: “Over the last twelve and half years, more than 299,000 illegal aliens have been booked into our Texas county jails charged with more than 513,000 state criminal offenses including murder, sexual assault, and robbery. More than 187,000 convictions have resulted from those charges. Many of these criminal aliens remain in our jails for weeks or months unable to secure bond due to their immigration status as they await formal legal proceedings. An unsecure border has many costs and this one, the housing of illegal aliens who commit state crimes, directly costs our local taxpayers."

Sheriff Jim Skinner of Collin County, who chairs the Government Affairs Committee at the National Sheriffs’ Association, underscored the importance of Gonzales' bill: “Congressman Gonzales' bill to reauthorize the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program is a crucial step towards ensuring that our communities receive the necessary support to detain convicted criminal aliens. By providing federal funds to offset the financial burden on state and local governments, including county jails, we uphold our commitment to public safety while easing the strain on vital resources.”

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