Recently the GOP presidential contenders have been engaged in a bizarre game of one-upsmanship on the issue of immigration, competing to offer the most merciless approach America’s undocumented population. Michele Bachmann recently proposed deporting every single one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country — a plan that would cost more than $2.6 trillion.
Now Gov. Rick Perry, who has been trying to fight the perception that his immigration stance is too moderate, is following in Bachmann’s footsteps:
Rick Perry vowed to deport all illegal immigrants detained in the country if elected president as he sought on Tuesday to burnish his conservative credentials on immigration ahead of the 2012 Republican contest.
The Texas governor has faced criticism from Republican rivals like Mitt Romney for being “soft” on illegal immigrants, because those who live in Texas can attend state universities at the same cost as other Texas residents. […]
“My policy will be to detain and deport every illegal alien who is apprehended in this country,” Perry said. “And we’ll do it with an expedited hearing process so that millions of illegal aliens are not released into the general population with some hearing date down the road.”
Perry made the remarks while campaigning in New Hampshire with notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is a hero to many conservatives for his degrading and illegal treatment of detained immigrants in his charge. The Perry campaign has embraced Arpaio’s endorsement to try to bolster his “tough on immigration” credentials. Perry contrasted his policy of deporting every immigrant with the Obama administration’s “horrific policy” of releasing non-violent immigrants.
As ThinkProgress noted Monday, it costs $23,148 for each undocumented immigrant to be apprehended, detained, legally processed, and transported out of the country. And the price tag may be even higher for the expedited process Perry calls for. A deportation-only policy would amount to $922 in new taxes for “every man, woman, and child in this country,” and the cost of deporting undocumented immigrants already in the country would total $285 billion over five years.
Perry’s fellow candidates pounced on him at an earlier debate for once supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students and opposing a border fence with Mexico. Plagued by allegations that he is insufficiently cruel to immigrants, Perry has taken a sharp rightward turn to placate the conservative base. Among other things, he’s attacked health care and education for poor immigrants to deflect from his past positions.