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In Congress This Week: New Appropriations for Immigration Courts and SCAAP

May 29, 2014 - Posted by Mario Moreno

The House approved HR 4460, The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015, earlier today.

This bill includes funding for the Department of Justice, which oversees the distribution of funds for areas of our immigration system including the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).

The Executive Office for Immigration Review

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) includes funding for our nation’s immigration courts and judges. For years funding for EOIR has failed to keep pace with increases in immigration enforcement. This has created a backlog of 366,000 cases and an average wait time of more than 570 days.

However, this year the House has taken a step in the right direction. It has appropriated $336 million for EOIR, an 8 percent increase over last year. Although it falls below the president’s request of $351 million, this new funding would allow EOIR to hire new immigration judges.

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) is also funded through the Department of Justice. This program provides federal payments to states and localities that incur costs for incarcerating undocumented immigrants. The president has attempted to end this program in his budget the past two years, but it is very popular in Congress. In this year's bill the program is funded at $180 million, and the House of Representatives is looking to increase that by 16 percent, to $210 million, for the next fiscal year.

Infographic on spending for immigration judges

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