[JURIST] Department of Homeland Security [official website] Inspector General Richard Skinner [official profile] has said that an estimated 35,000 detention beds are required to turn the Department's maligned "catch and release" program for dangerous illegal immigrants into a "catch and return" policy. In a report Friday, Skinner said that while the number of illegal immigrants apprehended rose 19 percent from 231,000 to 276,000 between 2002 and 2004, the number of available beds decreased by 6 percent. Under "catch and release," officials ticket immigrants for unlawful presence in the US without initiating deportation procedures. The report estimates that 36 percent of illegal immigrants apprehended in the US are released due to the prohibitive costs associated with detention while immigration status is determined and a deportation is obtained.
In February, the White House requested $410 million [press release] to fund 6,700 detention bed spaces, which Skinner says are not enough for a full-fledged "catch and return" program. AP has more.