Transfers of ICE Detainees from the
Bexar County Jail
San Antonio, Texas

Detainees Transferred
Number last 12 months 68
Out of total detained 165
Percent change:
from previous 12 months -53 %
from FY 2005 -57 %
from FY 2000 -8 %
Facility ranking on transfers top 66 %

Table 1: Transfers

During the most recent 12 month period for which data are available, a total of 68 detainees were transferred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from the Bexar County Jail where they had been temporarily housed to other facilities. The average stay for these individuals before their transfer was 2 days. The use of this facility for the temporary housing of federal immigration detainees was arranged through an intergovernmental service agreement (IGSA) under which payments by ICE to another governmental agency are made for housing federal detainees. Additional information about the arrangement, including whether a private company may operate the facility for the government, was not available at the time this report was posted.

Transfers made up 41 percent of the 165 detainees who in one way or another left this facility during the last 12 months. This report focuses just on these transfers. The remaining 59 percent of individuals who departed from the Bexar County Jail last year actually left ICE detention. These individuals were deported from the country, released under supervision while their cases was being decided, or left ICE detention for a variety of other reasons. For more information on this facility please see additional TRAC reports in this series.

This report series is based upon analyses conducted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University of 3.4 million government records tracking each individual who passed through an ICE detention facility during the past decade. The most recent 12 month period for which comprehensive data are available is for April 2007 through March 2008. See About the Data.

How This Facility Ranks Nationally

Detainee transfer rankings. The Bexar County Jail was one of 1,528 facilities that were used to house immigration detainees during the last decade, and one of 654 facilities nationwide that housed ICE detainees during the most recent 12 month period. Of these 654, there were 403 facilities that had at least 10 ICE detainee transfers last year. Excluding those facilities with fewer than 10 transfers, the Bexar County Jail last year ranked in the top 66 percent nationwide in the number of individuals it transferred to other ICE facilities. This means that 66 percent of the locations contributed the same or a larger numbers of transfers, while 34 percent had a smaller number. See Table 1.

Average length of stay before transfer. Once detainees arrived at the Bexar County Jail their average length of stay before being transferred on to another ICE facility was 2 days last year. Ranking facilities from longest to shortest detention stays for their transfer population, this average of 2 days placed Bexar County Jail in the top 85 percent of all facilities nationwide. That is, for detainees who are transferred, 85 percent of ICE detention facilities have the same or longer average stays last year, while 15 percent of detention facilities had shorter average stays.

Trends in the Number of Detainees Transferred

Transfers last year. When the ICE detainee transfers during the April 2007-March 2008 period were compared with those in the previous 12 months, the Bexar County Jail numbers were sharply down by 53 percent. During the previous April 2006-March 2007 period the facility processed 145 transfers as compared with 68 last year. As detailed in Table 1, transfers last year were also down by 57 percent as compared with the number of transfers (157) during FY 2005. Transfers last year were also down by 8 percent as compared with the number of transfers (74) during FY 2000.

Bar chart of fymondt

Figure 1: Month-by-month detainee transfers from this facility

Longer term transfer trends. Greater detail on these long-term trends in ICE transfers from the Bexar County Jail are displayed in Figure 1. Here the month-by-month number of transfers are graphed against the backdrop of the total detainees leaving the custody of this facility. Transfers are displayed with darker shading while those deported or released appear with lighter shading. As is readily apparent, considerable variation has occurred over time in both the overall numbers of detainees as well as the volume of transfers during this period.

Fiscal Year ICE Detainees
Total Transfers Percent
1999 12 8 67 %
2000 92 74 80 %
2001 142 130 92 %
2002 503 306 61 %
2003 466 208 45 %
2004 892 136 15 %
2005 654 157 24 %
2006 495 166 34 %
2007 318 126 40 %
2008 (est) 4 4 100 %

Table 2: Detainee transfers from this facility over the last decade

Transfer trends for the last decade are summarized by fiscal year in Table 2. Year-by-year figures for the Bexar County Jail are given for the total number of detainees as compared with the number transferred from the facility. The percent of detainees that end up being transferred from the facility is also given. (As mentioned above, the remaining detainees end up deported, released under supervision, or leave ICE detention for some other reason.) Because data for all twelve months of the most recent fiscal year are not yet available, the FY 2008 numbers (October 2007 through September 2008) are estimated based upon reporting for the first six months.

Origins and Destinations

Were these detainees arrested locally? Where did those that ended up being transferred from the Bexar County Jail last year originate? Information on the place of arrest was not included in the available data ICE released. However, we can examine whether the Bexar County Jail was the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held. According to ICE records, for the vast majority (96 percent) of these detainees, the Bexar County Jail was the first place they were sent when they were detained by ICE. The remaining 4 percent had been transferred in from another ICE detention facility.

We can also look at how quickly they arrived at this facility after they were first detained. Again, a total of 96 percent arrived at the Bexar County Jail at some point during the very first day they were detained by ICE. This percentage is also based on an analysis of the most recent 12 months for which data are available.

How soon did transfers occur? Nationally, the median number of days before an ICE detainee is transferred to another facility was 3 days last year. That means that half of all transfers occurred on or before the third day, while half had longer stays before they were transferred on to another ICE facility. Note that nationally the average stay at an ICE detention facility before an individual is transferred is substantially longer - 18 days. This is because while most detainees have relatively short stays before ICE transfers them elsewhere, sometimes stays are lengthy and these lengthy stays raise the average to above the median stay of 3 days.

For the Bexar County Jail last year, the median stay before a detainee was transferred was one day. This is less than the national figure. The average stay before transfers occurred was longer - 2 days - than the median stay. As noted above, this figure placed the facility in the top 85 percent among ICE detention facilities nationwide in the average number of days a detainee spent before he or she was transferred.

Pie chart of diffDCO

Figure 2: Transfer destinations during last 12 months

Where did those transferred get sent? ICE currently has great discretion about where in the United States transferred detainees are sent. For the period covered by these data, ICE divided the country into geographic regions or areas and assigned each to one of 56 document control offices or DCOs for the purpose of keeping track of detainees. Available data allow us to examine whether the transfer occurred within the same DCO or the transfer was to a different DCO. For the nation as a whole during the latest 12 months, about six out of ten transfers (59 percent) were within the same DCO, while the remaining four out of ten (41 percent) were to a different DCO.

Transfers Facility Profile U.S Overall
Profile (%)
Number Percent
Within region (DCO) 67 99% 59%
Outside region (DCO) 1 1.5% 41%
Total 68 100% 100%

Table 3: Transfer destinations during last 12 months

Figure 2 and accompanying Table 3 provide some comparative figures for how the Bexar County Jail stacks up against this national pattern. Last year, all of the transfers from the Bexar County Jail were to locations in the same region -- facilities under the control of same ICE docket control office. Only a few of the transfers went to detention facilities in a different region (DCO).


Which nationalities predominate? Last year in the United States, individuals from Mexico comprised the largest number of those transferred by ICE. Some 37 percent of all transfers recorded Mexico as their country of origin. The Bexar County Jail had a similar proportion of detainees from Mexico - 63 percent - among their transfers. Detainees from Mexico were also the largest single nationality group among the transfers at the facility.

Nationalities Ranked in Top 10 Transfers
Total To Diff. DCO % Diff DCO
- ALL 68 1 1.5 %
1 Mexico 43 1 2.3 %
2 Honduras 12 0 0.0 %
3 El Salvador 4 0 0.0 %
4 Guatemala 3 0 0.0 %
5 China 1 0 0.0 %
Cuba 1 0 0.0 %
Eritrea 1 0 0.0 %
Laos 1 0 0.0 %
Libya 1 0 0.0 %
Nigeria 1 0 0.0 %

Table 4: Transfers by nationality during the last 12 months

In descending order, the other top nationalities after Mexico that made up transfers from the Bexar County Jail last year were: Honduras (18%), El Salvador (6%), Guatemala (4%), China (1%), Cuba (1%), Eritrea (1%), Laos (1%), Libya (1%) and Nigeria (1%).

Pie chart of nat

Figure 3: Transfers by nationality

Out-of-region transfers by nationality. Within the nationalities that made up those listed in Table 4, the proportion transferred out of the region varied from 0 percent to 2 percent. As mentioned above, on average 1 percent of detainees transferred from the Bexar County Jail were sent to detention locations outside the region.

For Mexico with a total of 43 transfers, 2 percent of transfers were out-of-region transfers. More than one country was tied with the lowest out-of-region transfer rates (see Table 4).

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