Sen. Elizabeth Dole continues to promote the idea of regionalism in fighting illegal immigration. The key component of that concept is the Alamance County jail, which could become the regional center for processing illegal immigrants under the federal government’s 287(g) program:

Dole, a Republican, is touting regional cooperation on the 287(g) program as an efficient and cost-effective tool to process those here illegally who have committed crimes, says Dole spokesman Amy Auth…….

“I’ve heard from thousands of North Carolinians who are deeply concerned about the security of our borders and the enforcement of our laws,” Dole said in a prepared statement. “Folks frankly have no confidence that their government is serious about solving our nation’s immigration woes. They need to see proof, not just more promises.

“When it comes to enforcing our laws, our sheriffs are literally on the front lines, and they must have the tools to bring justice to illegal aliens who are committing crimes, such as drinking and driving, drug smuggling and gang related activities,” Dole said.

The 287(g) program is “a valuable resource,” the senator continues. “There are many important considerations involved in the immigration debate, but no question, weeding out this criminal element is the urgent matter at hand, and I believe that North Carolina can become a national model for success on this front,” Dole concluded.

But that would require more space and more money, says Sheriff Terry Johnson:

The county jail would need an additional 300 to 400 beds to hold and process immigrants from other counties, Johnson says. The addition would cost $6 million to $8 million, Johnson estimates.

Johnson favors making Alamance County the regional hub, but only if it benefits the county economically, he says.

Citing the cost overruns and construction problems with the recent addition to the county jail, Johnson says the federal government must pay for all the costs of construction and pay a fee for each inmate coming to the jail from other counties or states. The fees would offset the cost of hiring additional jailers, the sheriff adds.

The jail, the latest addition and the jail annex can hold 476 inmates without being crowded.

Dole is trying to anticipate the overcrowding problem by adding an amendment to a Senate bill that would prohibit the State Department from issuing visas to citizens of countries that refuse to accept the return of nationals when U.S. courts order their deportation. Here’s my question, and I’m asking because I don’t know: How truly effective will that be when the vast majority of illegal immigrants don’t get visas in the first place?