GOP Candidate: Tent Camps for Illegal Immigrants

It's hard to imagine that the immigration debate in Arizona could get more extreme, but it did this week when Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin, a Republican candidate for governor, suggested Tuesday that the state should build tent cities to house what could be a vastly rising number of illegal immigrants arrested under the state's new immigration law. Martin suggested that the camps could resemble tent-city jails in Maricopa County that currently hold DUI offender and inmates moved out of crowded jails, according to Politico.

Conservatives have been widely supportive of the Arizona bill. Conservative media outlets favorably covered Gov. Jan Brewer's recent visit to Washington and have closely monitored each act of new border-related violence, including the recent killing of a rock-throwing Mexican teen on the border. (Fox News quotes an unnamed source stating that the 15-year-old, whose death has sparked outrage in Mexico, was a "known juvenile smuggler" of illegal immigrants. The Mexican government has blasted the U.S. for disproportionate use of force on the teen, who appears to have been unarmed.)

But there has been little coverage of Martin's tent-camp idea by national conservative media. Perhaps his idea is too inflammatory, or it's just not being taken seriously. But the question of tent-city prison camps brings to the forefront an underlying problem with the new Arizona law, which is how on earth Arizona will pay to enforce it. Extreme ideas like tent camps for immigrants will likely draw more discussion in the coming year as local authorities grapple with how to apply the controversial new measure.

What does seem to interest conservative media outlets is how different politicians are using the immigration flare-up to their own advantage, such as a Fox report from Phoenix this week on how candidates locally and nationally are "piggybacking" on the issue. Martin's comments are front and center of the discussion, particularly his claims that Governor Brewer only began paying attention to the border "when she started doing election-year polling." Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat in Arizona's House of Representatives and an opponent of the new law, was quoted in the Fox story as saying candidates were simply hijacking the issue: "They are seeing immigration as a potential wedge issue and trying to use it to maximize political hay, which is unfortunate." She's right: expect hay fever through November and beyond.