WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today introduced legislation to return to northern border states and communities the resources they spend prosecuting people apprehended at the border and federal border related crimes.

The “Northern Border Prosecution Initiative Reimbursement Act” authorizes $28 million for fiscal year 2004 for local prosecutors handling Border Patrol and other federal immigration cases.

“We can’t keep sticking economically stressed local communities with the cost of prosecuting federal crimes on the Northern Border,” Cantwell said. “The federal government should pay its fair share of the cost to keep border communities safe.”

“Idaho and other northern border state are facing an increase in the costs related to prosecuting immigration cases, and much of this is attributable to homeland security concerns,” Crapo explained. “Without the necessary resources to pay for cases initiated by federal authorities, other important local projects and programs will end up losing. This legislation simply allows Idaho and thirteen other northern border states to be reimbursed for prosecution-related costs, much in the same manner as southern border states currently receive offsets for the same type of activities.

“While the federal government has done the right thing by increasing security at our Northern Border, it has left local taxpayers to foot the bill to jail, prosecute, and defend the hundreds of people who have been arrested,” Murray said. “This legislation will help local communities - and local taxpayers - deal with the consequences of a federal action.”

Cantwell, Crapo, and Murray are joined by cosponsors Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK); Patrick Leahy (D-VT), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee; Hillary Clinton (D-NY); and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Homeland security is a paramount concern in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, and states and local governments are bearing an unfair financial burden in protecting and patrolling our national borders. The costs of homeland security are increasingly falling to states and local governments. Without the necessary resources to pay for cases initiated by federal authorities, other important local initiatives will undoubtedly be shortchanged.

Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Key facts:

- This program extends the program currently operating on the Southern Border, which last year reimbursed $40 million through the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs to local prosecutors and local jurisdictions handling criminal immigration cases.

- Direct reimbursement would be provided to cities and counties for expenses including the costs of prosecution, detention of suspects, court costs, and construction of holding spaces. Reimbursable expenses would also include the cost of prosecuting expensive cases resulting from the investigative work of the multi-jurisdictional task forces.

- Reimbursement would be available as long as the investigation or arrest was initiated by federal law enforcement including the Border Patrol or any case that involves a violation of federal law that has been referred for prosecution by federal authorities.

- The amount of reimbursement would be determined on the same basis as the existing southern border program with limitations on the amount of the reimbursement that are tied to the speed of disposition of the case. Reimbursement for cases concluded in less than two weeks would be limited to $2,500, cases disposed of within a month to $5,000 and cases taking longer than 90 days to $10,000.