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A pig-flying moment in Washington state

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 3, 2009 10:42 AM

A Democrat governor is calling for illegal alien criminals to be deported faster. Do my eyes deceive me? Are pigs flying?

It’s true: Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed a partnership with the feds to finally expedite the illegal alien criminal deportation process through the 287(g) program, which I’ve reported on extensively. (See here for background.)

Strapped budgets have a way of helping cure open-borders blindness (via Seattle Times, hat tip – Orbusmax). Better late than never.

To save money, Gov. Chris Gregoire wants illegal aliens serving time in state prisons deported.

Her proposal estimates that deporting illegal aliens — who are serving or would serve time for drug or property crime convictions — will save the state more than $9 million in the next two-year budget.

The state faces a $5.7 billion budget deficit over the next 2 1/2 years, and Gregoire has proposed a no new-taxes budget proposal laden with cuts, including about $200 million from the Department of Corrections, the attorney general’s office, and other public safety programs.

The deportation proposal is modeled after a program in Arizona that has saved the state more than $18.5 million since 2005, said Eldon Vail, secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections.

“It’s not an ideal choice, if revenue was there, I’d say have them do their time,” Vail said. “Is justice better served? It’s a tough question to wrestle with when you don’t have resources.”

The proposal would call for the state to come to an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which would carry out the deportations. In Washington, there are about 350 prisoners who would be eligible to be transferred to ICE. On average, it costs the state $90 a day to imprison an inmate, Vail said.

It also includes allowing state workers to act as immigration agents in some instances, assisting ICE in processing illegal aliens under a version of the so-called 287(g) agreements, which are contentious among immigrant advocates.