Arnold: Send Convicts to Mexico

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On Monday, Arnold Schwarzenegger improvised a solution to California's budget crisis: outsource 20,000 jailed illegal immigrants to Mexican prisons. Riffing in a Q&A at the Sacramento Press Club, the Governator sketched out the details.

We pay them to build a prison down in Mexico and then we have those undocumented immigrants be down there in a prison and with their prison guards and all this. It will halve the costs to build the prisons and halve the costs to run the prisons. That is money—again, a billion dollars right there—that can go into higher education.

Was Arnold speaking in earnest? Either way, critics quickly homed in on their target.

  • Has Arnold Resorted to Making Stuff Up? wonders Te-Ping Chen at, citing Schwarzenegger’s spokesman’s assertion that the governor was "just riffing on ‘a concept somebody mentioned to him'" and had pulled the $1 billion figure out of nowhere. "Have California's prisons really deteriorated to the point that the only solutions the Governor can find are imaginary ones?"

  • Why Stop at Mexico? scoffs The Corner’s John Derbyshire. "California could run a corrections program at a fraction of the present cost by sending all state prisoners for incarceration in, say, Ethiopia. If put to one of those referendums the Golden State is famous for, I bet this idea would have overwhelming support."
  • As if Prisons in Mexico Weren’t Bad Enough, Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating laments. "Aside from the troubling fact that Schwarzenegger seems to have just made up the $1 billion figure and not consulted anyone before bringing up this idea, his timing is a bit unfortunate given that just five days ago 23 Mexican inmates were killed in a prison riot in Durango. Two other riots last year killed at least 20 inmates each."

  • Seriously, Arnold? Matthew Fleischer at True/Slant has trouble taking the idea seriously, calling it "a political nonstarter. Folks in Orange County—otherwise know as the Mexican hating capital of the free world—may be soiling their underwear with joy, but the prison guard union in California is far too powerful to allow any of their jobs to be shipped south."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.