YumaSun.com > News: "Proposal would house prisoners in Mexico
PHOENIX (AP) -- Some lawmakers want to explore the possibility of the state contracting to have a private prison built in Mexico to house illegal immigrants now incarcerated in Arizona.
The idea was promoted as a way to reduce the state's heavy costs in imprisoning the 3,600 to 4,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona prisons who have been convicted of crimes. Opponents questioned whether the state has the legal authority to move the foreign prisoners to Mexico.
In any event, a proposal (HB2709) to have the state seek proposals for such prison cleared its first hurdle Wednesday at the Arizona Legislature in a 4-2 vote by a House committee.
The bill is one of many moving through the Legislature that tries to confront the problems caused by illegal immigration.
More than any other state in recent years, Arizona has been dogged by a heavy flow of illegal immigrants after the government tightened enforcement in El Paso, Texas, and San Diego during the mid-1990s.
Several Arizona lawmakers have said the federal government hasn't done enough to confront illegal immigration and therefore has dumped massive costs on the state.
Gov. Janet Napolitano has recently billed the federal government for nearly $118 million in unreimbursed costs for imprisoning illegal immigrants.
The Mexico prison idea was proposed in the 1990s but shelved, partly due to legal concerns. It was revived in 2003 to help cover budget shortfalls but was rejected by a key legislative committee."