There's a Good Chance ICE Is Detaining Immigrants in a Jail Near You


The list of places where U.S. immigration officials have been detaining immigrants across the country is more varied, and more surprising, than many people might have guessed.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year jailed an average of 38,000 immigrants per day. But only about 11% of detainees were detained in facilities owned and operated by ICE. Most immigrants are detained in for-profit facilities or county-run jails.

Many local jails across the country detain ICE detainees through what’s called an Intergovernmental Service Agreement. IGSAs can be for long-term detention or for more shorter times while ICE is transferring immigrants.

Splinter recently obtained the most recent annual list of facilities who have agreements with ICE to jail immigrants. The list was first obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request made by two immigrant rights groups, the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, who then shared the list with Splinter earlier this year.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

The “facility list” compiled by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations Custody Management Division includes 447 locations where ICE detained immigrants for at least one day during the 2017 fiscal year (October 2016 through September 2017).

The list includes widely-known detention centers like the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, the largest detention center in California. But it also includes some little-known locations that incarcerate immigrants. The York County Prison in Pennsylvania, for example, detained 854 detainees in a single day last year, according to ICE’s own records. The York County website notes the jail “houses federal immigration detainees in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Other county jails across the country seem to be operating like any other local jail but actually detain a large percentage of ICE detainees, often to keep the county budgets afloat. The Hardin County Jail in Iowa, for instance, reportedly has the capacity to incarcerate 107 inmates, but at one point last year it jailed 84 detainees in one day. That means ICE detainees were sleeping in 78% of the county jail’s beds.

ICE created the list on November 6, 2017, according to the date listed on the document. Since then, some local governments have voted to cancel their contracts with ICE. The city of Santa Ana, for example, is listed in the spreadsheet but is no longer incarcerating immigrants for ICE. Williamson County commissioners in Texas this week also voted to close the T. Don Hutto Facility, a notorious private prison for women.

Take a look at the list of 447 locations yourself and see if ICE is imprisoning detainees in your city. As mentioned above, it is possible to push ICE out of your city or county.

To download the full dataset visit the National Immigrant Justice Center’s website.

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