Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brad Jones Answers Your Questions (Lynnfield, MA Patch)

Brad Jones Answers Your Questions
Do you have your own questions for the state representative? Let us know.
By Matt Casey, Ashley Troutman, and William Laforme
May 31, 2011

North Reading Patch, in corporation with Reading Patch and Lynnfield Patch, have introduced a feature where we bring your questions to State Rep. Brad Jones.

What are you and the GOP doing about limiting government funds going to illegal immigrants?

I have been a long time supporter and frequent sponsor/co-sponsor of a variety of initiatives to ensure taxpayer resources are utilized for the benefit of persons here legally be they citizens or non-citizens here under color of law.

To be certain under the United States Constitution and federal law, we are required to provide certain services regardless of immigration status, most specifically in regard to public education for K-12 students and emergency health care services.

Recent legislative attempts have focused on putting in place protocols and requirements to check on the status of applicants/recipients of other public benefits.

While unsuccessfully in the most stringent efforts, last year saw the inclusion of tougher policies in the state budget which were a by-product of the increase in public advocacy in a time of scarce resources. Similar efforts to ensure even tougher guidelines failed narrowly during the recent House budget debate.

On the related topic, I co-sponsored an amendment to the FY12 budget relative to the Secure Communities Act, an initiative introduced by the Obama Administration to remove level one criminals who are illegal aliens from the US. The amendment to the budget would have directed the Governor to join this federal initiative. However, this most recent attempt by the Republican caucus to enact upon secure communities was defeated during the House budget debate by a vote of 73-84.

If the Secure Communities Initiative was enacted, fingerprints of everyone arrested and booked into local law enforcement custody will not only be checked against FBI criminal history records, but they are also checked against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records. If fingerprints match DHS records, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) determines if immigration enforcement action is required, considering the immigration status of the alien, the severity of the crime and the alien's criminal history.

The program would have significant fiscal ramifications to the commonwealth – there were 806 illegal immigrants in Massachusetts Correctional Institutions (MCI) in 2008, incarcerated for an average of 241 days. Thus, the cost per inmate in 2008 was $46,000, a total cost of over $30 million to the commonwealth.

In the city of Boston, where Secure Communities was first piloted, Immigration and Customization Enforcement (ICE) has put 268 felons on the path to removal to their home countries. According to state statistics, the commonwealth of Massachusetts spends $30 million a year to incarcerate illegal immigrants.

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