Sanctuary Cities Costs Taxpayers $7 Billion Annually

The cost to incarcerate criminal aliens is hidden from taxpayers

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

A recent report by Breitbart News reveals that over 300 Sanctuary Cities are costing taxpayers $7 billion annually.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to withhold federal grant funds from Sanctuary Cities.

Although Minneapolis and St. Paul each have ordinances that prevent law enforcement from asking victims or witnesses to a crime for their immigration status, the question remains if both cities technically qualify as Sanctuary Cities, a term that the Pioneer Press says has “no formal definition under the law.”

The Pioneer Press reports that Minneapolis and St. Paul do not block police from turning over suspects who are in custody and are being sought by immigration authorities.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said that Minneapolis is a sanctuary city.  In a statement on her website Hodges wrote, “…President Trump signed executive orders against sanctuary cities like our own (emphasis added) and announced sweeping bans from Muslim countries.”  In contrast to her statement, Hodges told the Pioneer Press on January 25, “I don’t use the phrase ‘sanctuary city,’ ” and noted that the term has no legal definition.

Although it is unclear if Minneapolis and St. Paul are Sanctuary Cities, there are 23 different corrections facilities across Minnesota that have applied for Federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) grants, which is a program that reimburses state and local governments for the costs of incarcerating unauthorized immigrants.

There is no direct way to figure out exactly what Sanctuary Cities are costing taxpayers, but the annual SCAAP reports, which are published by the United States Department of Justice, give a small clue as to the amount of money involved for criminal alien incarceration.

The 2016 SCAAP report shows out of a total capacity of 15,322 beds, 2,680 unique inmate records were submitted by the state and counties for reimbursement in Minnesota. SCAAP reported a total of 1,212 eligible criminal aliens, 498 criminals with unknown immigration status and another 970 ineligible for reimbursement.  Minnesota corrections facilities were reimbursed $1,291,169 for costs associated with 1,710 inmates with illegal or unknown immigration status in 2016. Hennepin and Ramsey counties received 23% of the SCAAP reimbursement last year. It costs approximately $41,364 to incarcerate one inmate for a year in Minnesota, according to the National Institute of Corrections. Criminal aliens can be held as few as four days and still qualify for reimbursement, so it is hard to determine the definitive cost to taxpayers each year.

Congress established the federal SCAAP grant program to acknowledge federal responsibility for enforcement of immigration laws and securing the borders.  However, in looking at the numbers, it appears that taxpayers are left paying almost all of the costs to jail criminal aliens.

Breitbart states that many of those who oppose sanctuary cities mainly do so, not because of the cost, but because of the multitude of crimes committed by people who are illegally in the country. Securing borders and enforcing immigration laws would reduce overall immigration, especially criminals.

According to Breitbart, annual taxpayer costs are hidden from public scrutiny by elected officials from Congress, state legislatures, and local officials.  Local governments hide the costs of alien incarcerations because local officials want all the political benefits of claiming to be protectors of the immigrant communities.

As Alpha News reported last week, Mayor Hodges challenged President Trump’s executive order stripping federal grant money from sanctuary states and cities on Twitter, posting: “He’ll have to come through me. He’ll have to come through us.”


Donna Azarian