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AZ county sees drop in illegal immigrant inmates

AZ county sees drop in illegal immigrant inmates

CREATED Jun 30, 2011

Web Producer: Laura Rios

PHOENIX (AP) - The number of inmates suspected of being illegal immigrants in the state's most populous county has dropped by nearly 40 percent despite an increase in deportations across the country in the same time frame.

There were more than 16,000 suspected illegal immigrants housed in Maricopa County jails in 2008. That's compared to just under 10,000 last year.

One explanation for the decrease is that fewer people in general are committing crimes that land them in Maricopa County jail. The average number of inmates in county custody fell by 13 percent during the same time period as the 40 percent drop in immigration holds.

The number of immigrants living in Arizona without authorization has decreased, and federal officials have stepped up their efforts to deport illegal immigrants who haven't committed serious crimes.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)