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San Diego Speaks: Deporting Illegal Immigrants from California Prisons

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JOANNE FARYON (Host): Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering a plan to deport illegal immigrants from California state prisons. The plan would save the state millions. KPBS digital reporter Sharon Heilbrunn has the story. SHARON HEILBRUNN (Reporter): This is Donovan State Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa, just a couple exits north of the Mexico/US border. There are nearly 5,000 inmates here, about 200 illegal immigrants. East of here is Centinela State Prison in Imperial County. 4,200 inmates, one out of every six is an illegal immigrant. Their sentences could be cut short if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has his way. He's proposed turning over state prisoners who are illegal immigrants to federal authorities for deportation. According to officials, the move would save almost $200 million for a state that faces an estimated budget gap of more than $24 billion. But authorities warn a mass release of prisoners from California and other states could swamp an already crowded federal system. The majority of illegal immigrant inmates at Centinela are from Mexico, but a spokesperson points out, they arrive from all over the world. If this plan moves forward, about 19,000 California inmates will be deported, and they probably won't serve additional prison time once they are sent home. Those who have committed violent crimes will not be eligible for early release, according to state officials. We wanted to know what you think of this plan. Here's what people had to say: BILL HILSDORF: Yeah, I think it would be a good idea, but there's also the danger that they might just sneak right back across the border. But I think it will save the state some money. ERIC MITCHELL: Yeah, if we're looking to save money, I think we need to send the folks back, because the fact they're here illegally should almost trump the fact of whatever other thing they did. Now, if it's a justice thing, then I think we should keep them in our prisons, because more than likely we send them back, their prison system is not going to keep them in, they're gonna just let them go, so more than likely they'll head back, and then they'll be on our streets and we won't know where they are, so. LYNNETTE COVARRUBIAS: Oh no, I think that's a great way to send money back, I mean they're already here illegally, so you might as well use that money and save it and spent it on someone else, maybe another way. SHARON HEILBRUNN: Now, officials in other states, including Oregon and Washington, are also considering similar deportation moves from their state prisons. We want to know if you think this is a good idea. Log onto and leave us a comment. For, I'm Sharon Heilbrunn.


Avatar for user 'MtNebo'

MtNebo | June 26, 2009 at 8:13 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

This release by the states and counties was precipitated by Congress. They removed Federal Funds to reimburse states and local government for detaining illegal immigants rather than turning them over to federal authorities for detention or return to Mexico, where they would be released unless they are charged for offenses committed in Mexico.

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Avatar for user 'berkeleygirl'

berkeleygirl | July 16, 2009 at 2:01 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

I think this is a good plan which should have been implemented long ago. When illegals are done with their sentences, they still have to go to ICE prisons and proceed with their immigration court proceedings. So it only makes sense to send these illegals to ICE before their sentences are up, so that they can pursue their ICE court proceedings. Additionally, when we send these illegals back to their countries, this is additional "punishment." Most of the illegals in our prisons came to the US as children, and being sent to their "native" countries is a definite setback for them. So we might as well send them back a bit sooner and give them that extra time to hopefully get back onto their feet with the few dollars we hand them as they are expected to make a decent living in their(oftentimes third world native) country.

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