Thursday, February 17, 2005

Mexican prison for immigrant criminals

Mexican immigrants who have committed crimes in the United States may be imprisoned in their home country:

A bill before the legislature would allow the state to build a private prison in Mexcio to house illegal immigrants who have committed crimes in the United States and are now imprisoned in Arizona.

Supporters say the bill, approved 4-2 Wednesday by a House committee, could help reduce Arizona's heavy cost of imprisoning 3,600 to 4,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona prisons. Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano recently billed the federal government nearly $118 million in unreimbursed costs for imprisoning illegal immigrants.

"This is a creative idea and worthy of exploration," said Republican Rep. Bill Konopnicki, who voted for the bill.

Opponents questioned whether the state has the legal authority to move prisoners to Mexico. GOP Rep. John McCommish questioned whether the state could fulfill its responsibility to oversee a prison if it was located in anther country.

More than any other state, Arizona has been dogged by a heavy flow of illegal immigrants since the government tightened enforcement in Texas and California during the mid-1990s.

The Mexico prison idea has been proposed before, most recently in 2003, but has yet to make it out of the Legislature.

Of course the best thing would be to keep the immigrant criminals out of our country in the first place.

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