by Charles Lemos, Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:23:41 PM EDT
Last month, Marg Baker, a Tea Party-backed candidate for the Florida State House, suggested that illegal immigrants be rounded up and placed in internment camps. She floated her idea at a local meeting in Tampa of the 9-12 Project, the Glenn Beck-founded group.
After the video of remarks surfaced earlier this month, Justin Elliott of Salon caught up with Ms. Baker where she expanded on her idea.
"We can ship them out to the middle of the country and put up high walls and leave them there," said Marg Baker, the middle-aged real estate broker vying for the Republican nomination in the state's 48th district, north of Tampa.
Baker was filmed advocating the camps idea at a local meeting of the 9-12 Project, Glenn Beck's activist group, earlier this month. She told Salon today that she was upset at the way some had misinterpreted her comments. "They're trying to think I want to erect some sort of prison camps like over in Germany" -- which she is not, Baker said.
Asked if what she had in mind was more like the Japanese internment camps of the World War II era, Baker said, "something like that. But unfortunately in the Japanese camps they detained American citizens. The only ones I want to detain are the ones who are illegal."
She added, "You've gotta have places for them to eat and sleep and breathe fresh air. It can be a tent city ... You don't want to make them too comfortable or they'll want to come back."
While illegal immigrants are held in detention centers, they are generally processed quickly and then deported. It may surprise Ms. Baker to learn that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush Administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007.
Perhaps that number remains a drop in the bucket but the deportation of all illegal aliens is a non-starter. The economic impact would be severe. A 2007 study put the economic contribution of illegal aliens at $1.7 trillion. Add in that illegal aliens perform tasks at 20 percent below market rates, the inflationary impact would be immediate. Few Americans are willing to work for or able to survive on wages of $8.00 an hour. The Washington Post in a June 4, 2007 editorial article titled "Immigrants Equal Growth... Reform Isn't Just Humane. It's Self-Interest," offered the following position:
Amid the blizzard of data concerning immigrants' effects on wages, welfare and municipal budgets, the essential point is this: The latest wave of immigrants - legal and illegal, skilled and unskilled - has stimulated enormous economic activity and wealth generation in this country, and it is implausible that the American economy would fare as well without them...
Since most immigrants come when they are young and working... they tend not to collect Social Security or Medicare for many years - even while paying into the systems with payroll taxes, in many cases with phony Social Security numbers (meaning they will contribute but not collect). In fact, illegal immigrants do not get federal welfare benefits of any kind. At the same time they often pay income tax (through paycheck withholdings) and sales tax, thereby helping directly or indirectly to underwrite transportation, health care, education and other services.
But beyond the economic impact, we can't hold people against their will. There's the matter of due process and then there's the matter of how you round up an estimated 8 to 12 million illegal aliens. The suggestion is ludricous but such are many of the suggestions emanating from the Tea Party wing of the GOP.
Now comes word that a Tea Party backed Republican candidate for Governor in New York Carl Paladino said he would transform some prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they would work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in "personal hygiene."