10/22/2011 09:22 am ET Updated Dec 22, 2011

California Republican: State Should Imprison Undocumented Immigrants Abroad

A Republican state assemblyman in California has what he calls "a wild idea": The state should consider building prisons abroad to house undocumented immigrants who committed crimes in the United States.

"Let's build their prisons in their home countries and send them to those prisons," Assemblyman Brian Jones told Patch editors on Friday, essentially proposing the government deport criminals before they serve their time. "It might be cheaper to pay for the prisons in other countries -- if the other country will run it and keep them actually in prison," he added later.

The federal government currently deports unauthorized immigrants after they serve prison sentences, but provides some support to states to defray the cost of detention through the DOJ's State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. Undocumented immigrants make up about 25 percent of the population of federal prisons, according to a March report from the Government Accountability Office. But that figure is larger than the percentage of undocumented immigrants in state prisons because criminals' civil immigration violations fall under federal jurisdiction.

Read the full story on La Mesa Patch.

CLARIFICATION: The last sentence has been updated to reflect that immigrants are at times transfered to federal prisons for minor crimes if they are also violating civil immigration laws.