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France expels 17,000 immigrants in 7 months

FRANCE'S immigration minister says authorities have deported 17,000 illegal immigrants in the first seven months of 2009.

Eric Besson says that France is well on its way to meeting its goal of expelling 27,000 people over the year.

Speaking Thursday on LCI television, Besson also defended the practice of detaining minors pending their expulsion. He said it was "relatively rare" for minors to be kept in holding centers.

Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy has made the fight against illegal immigration a priority since taking office in 2007. Pro-immigrant groups have decried his policy on immigration as heavy handed and insist the expulsions go against French values.


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