The General Assembly passed a law in 2006 instructing the attorney general to actively seek federal reimbursement under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for the costs of keeping illegal immigrants in prison.
“Colorado taxpayers are being forced to absorb millions of dollars in costs associated with illegal immigration in the state,” Suthers said. “For example, during the fiscal year ending in June 2008, Colorado received nearly $3.3 million in federal reimbursement – less than 6 percent of the more than $57.9 million cost of holding illegal immigrants in state prisons.”
Suthers sent a letter to the state’s U.S. representatives and senators asking for expansion of SCAAP money for the state’s cost in housing criminals who are in the United States illegally.
While the state keeps track of foreign born inmates, it does not track their immigration status. According to a letter from Aristedes Zavaras, executive director of the Department of Corrections, the state spent $57.8 million incarcerating foreign-born inmates. He did not say how many of those inmates were in the country legally.
A total of 2,239 inmates born in other countries were in Colorado state prisons during fiscal year 2008, for a total of 694,985 days. The annual cost per inmate is $30,388.