Instead of building a border fence to help stem illegal immigration, the U.S. government should implant microchips into immigrants before deportation, much like what is done with pets, Pat Bertroche, an Urbandale physician and one of seven Republicans running in the 3rd District Congressional primary, said Monday.

While speaking at a Tama County Republican forum, Bertroche made it clear that he wasn’t joking when he suggested treating undocumented immigrants like pets.

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

“I think we should catch ’em, we should document ’em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going,” said Pat Bertroche, an Urbandale physician. “I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can’t I microchip an illegal?

“That’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under,” Bertroche said.

Five of the six other candidates vying for the chance to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell also spoke at the event, and each came out strongly against amnesty and in favor of tougher border security. State Sen. Brad Zaun of Urbandale said “illegal people who are here, put them on a bus and send them wherever they came from.” He also contended that immigrants in the country illegally receive government services, like education and health care, and typically aren’t helping pay to support those services.

But that isn’t true. A 2007 study by the non-partisan Iowa Policy Project found that the average undocumented family in Iowa pays about $1,254 in sales and excise taxes, $110 in property taxes and $307 in income taxes, for a total tax contribution of $1,671 each year. This represents approximately 80 percent of the total amount of taxes paid by a documented family in Iowa earning the same income.

Undocumented immigrant workers who work “on the books” also contribute additional state and federal taxes that go to pay for benefits that, because of their illegal status, these workers will never be able to access. Every year, employers pay the State of Iowa an estimated $1.85 million to $2.86 million in state unemployment insurance premiums on behalf of their unauthorized employees, and undocumented workers and their employers together pay an estimated $50.3 million to $77.8 million in Social Security and Medicare taxes to the federal government.

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