Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday suggested that the state could save money by sending the 20,000 illegal immigrants he says are incarcerated by California to Mexico on the state's dime.

” … We can do so much better in the prison system alone if we can go and take inmates — for instance the 20,000 inmates that are illegal immigrants that are here — and ship them to Mexico,” he told the Sacramento Press Club in his last annual luncheon with the body as governor.

“Think about it,” he said. “California gives Mexico the money … We pay them to build the prison down in Mexico. And then we have those undocumented immigrants be down there in the prison. Half the cost to build the prison and half the cost to run the prison … That is money that can go into higher education.”

The governor was responding to a question asking for “examples of reckless spending” in Sacramento. He said we spend too much on prisons and not enough on education.

The governor made his remarks as the state today was scheduled to begin releasing thousands of nonviolent prisoners in order to shave its budget. He described the move, which he said would save the state $500 million dollars, as “simply reform, parole reform.”

“There is no prison releases at all,” Schwarzenegger said.

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