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Officials Say Detention is Best Method to Deter Illegal Immigration

The number of illegal immigrants detained in the United States has jumped nearly 30 percent over the past year. KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps has details.

Officials Say Detention is Best Method to Deter Illegal Immigration

The number of illegal immigrants detained in the United States has jumped nearly 30 percent over the past year. KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps has details.

In fiscal year 2007, nearly 28,000 illegal immigrants were in custody. Immigration officials say that's up from just under 20,000 the year before. California's detainee population rose by 500 people in a year.

The federal government has stopped releasing illegal immigrants immediately after catching them. Illegal immigrants are ordered to leave the United States when they get out, but less than 33 percent actually do leave.

Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement say detention is the most effective deterrent.

Immigration advocates say detainees live in increasingly crowded conditions, and lack adequate medical care.

Meanwhile, the number of immigrants deported is up by 84,000 from two years ago.

Andrew Phelps, KPBS News.