Dean Martin, Arizona state treasurer and Republican candidate for governor, is pushing a plan that would create “tent cities” to house illegal immigrants convicted of other crimes, modeled after notorious anti-immigration Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s set-up in his own Maricopa County.
In an interview with TPM, Martin described how the state could use the tent cities to provide “inexpensive temporary housing” that would save them enough money to deploy more troops down to the border.
According to a statement by Martin, he and Arpaio met earlier this week, and Arpaio endorsed Martin’s “Zero Tolerance” plan because it “offers real solutions.” Martin told TPM that Arpaio also said he would take on any illegal immigrants arrested in his own Maricopa County for other crimes.
In the plan (.pdf), Martin describes how the state of Arizona could save millions by temporarily housing “criminal aliens” in either private prisons or in “tent cities.”
Though in his proposal Martin says Arizona “can no longer afford the luxury of comfy new prisons when our state is in the red,” he assured TPM that with the tent cities, “we’re not talking about a Shantytown here.”
He said they would use extra land adjacent to existing prison facilities, which would allow the tent cities “room to grow, so to speak.” When asked to describe what the tent cities would look like, Martin said that they would be modeled after those used by Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa county, using army surplus tents that have “air conditioning or evaporative cooling” but are also “portable and temporary.”
He also emphasized that his plan would eliminate the need to release convicted illegal immigrants from prison 90 days early, which he says Gov. Jan Brewer has been doing to balance the budget.
Martin’s plan would also require welfare recipients to give thumb prints before getting a check, and speed up the completion of the border fence, among other things.
On MSNBC today, Martin explained his “tent city” further:
Sheriff Arpaio’s office did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.
This post has been edited since first publishing.