(Washington Times) Nearly 3 percent of illegal immigrants in Arizona end up in state prison or jail during the course of a year — four times the rate of U.S. citizens and legal residents, according to a study that uses federal reimbursements for prisons and jails to try to calculate one of the most important yet elusive statistics in the immigration debate.

In New Jersey, illegal immigrants are incarcerated five times more often, and rates on the West Coast are triple that of legal residents and citizens, according to the study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

FAIR based its calculations on federal government reimbursements to states and localities under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which pays some of the costs for holding illegal immigrants in prisons and jails. To make the payments, the federal government must determine whether an inmate is definitely or possibly in the country illegally. FAIR used the number to then calculate overall incarceration rates.

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