Transfers of ICE Detainees from the
Port Isabel Service Processing Center
Los Fresnos, Texas
Table 1: Transfers
|top 2 %
During the most recent 12 month period for which data are available, a total of
6,881 detainees were transferred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
from the Port Isabel Service Processing Center where they
had been temporarily housed to other facilities. The average
stay for these individuals before their transfer was 23 days.
This facility is an ICE Service Processing Center (SPC).
While the facility is government owned, it is operated by the Native American Corporation-Technical Services Incorporated that was
in the business of providing detention services for housing federal detainees.
Transfers made up 64 percent of the 10,830 detainees who in one way or
another left this facility during the last 12 months.
This report focuses just on these transfers.
The remaining 36 percent of individuals who departed from the Port Isabel Service Processing Center 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
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 Port Isabel Service Processing Center 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
Port Isabel Service Processing Center last year ranked in the top 2 percent nationwide in
the number of individuals it transferred to other ICE facilities.
This means that 2 percent of the locations contributed the same or a
larger numbers of transfers, while 98
percent had a smaller number. See Table 1.
Average length of stay before transfer. Once detainees arrived at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center their
average length of stay before being transferred on to another ICE facility was 23 days last year.
Ranking facilities from longest to shortest detention stays for their transfer population,
this average of 23 days placed Port Isabel Service Processing Center
in the top 28 percent of all facilities nationwide.
That is, for detainees who are transferred, 28 percent
of ICE detention facilities have the same or longer average stays last year, while 72 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
Port Isabel Service Processing Center numbers were sharply up by 74 percent. During the previous
April 2006-March 2007 period the facility processed 3,957 transfers as compared
with 6,881 last year.
As detailed in Table 1, transfers last year were also up by 156 percent
as compared with the number of transfers (2,690) during FY 2005.
Transfers last year were however down by 7 percent as compared with the number of
transfers (7,423) during FY 2000.
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 Port Isabel Service Processing Center 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
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.
Table 2: Detainee transfers from this facility over the last decade
|| 49 %
|| 47 %
|| 24 %
|| 22 %
|| 20 %
|| 21 %
|| 16 %
|| 20 %
|| 58 %
|| 61 %
Transfer trends for the last decade are summarized by fiscal year in Table 2. Year-by-year
figures for the Port Isabel Service Processing Center 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 Port Isabel Service Processing Center last year originate?
Information on the place of arrest was not included in the available data ICE
released. However, we can examine whether the Port Isabel Service Processing Center was
the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held.
According to ICE records, for a few (5 percent) of
these detainees, the Port Isabel Service Processing Center was the first place they were
sent when they were detained by ICE.
The remaining 95 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
A total of 28 percent arrived at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center 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 Port Isabel Service Processing Center last year, the median stay before a detainee
was transferred was 13 days. This is longer than the national figure.
The average stay before transfers occurred was longer - 23 days - than the median stay. As noted above,
this figure placed the facility
in the top 28 percent among ICE detention facilities nationwide in the average number of days a detainee spent before he or she was transferred.
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.
Table 3: Transfer destinations during last 12 months
Figure 2 and accompanying Table 3 provide some comparative figures for how the
Port Isabel Service Processing Center stacks up against this national pattern.
Last year, only 6 percent of the transfers from the Port Isabel Service Processing Center were to locations in the same
region -- facilities under the control of same ICE docket control office.
The vast majority (94 percent) 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 Port Isabel Service Processing Center had a much smaller proportion of detainees from Mexico - 9 percent - among their transfers.
Detainees from Mexico were also not the largest single nationality group among the transfers at the facility.
Table 4: Transfers by nationality during the last 12 months
|| 94.4 %
|| 92.4 %
|| 97.8 %
|| 96.3 %
|| 90.8 %
|| 96.2 %
|| 98.1 %
|| 92.9 %
|| 96.5 %
|| 90.1 %
|| 80.0 %
In descending order,
the top nationalities that made up transfers from the Port Isabel Service Processing Center last year were:
El Salvador (30%)
, Honduras (23%), Guatemala (17%), Mexico (9%) and Dominican Republic (4%).
For the frequency for each of the nationalities within the top 10 among transfers from the Port Isabel Service Processing Center last year see Table 4.
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 80 percent to 98 percent.
As mentioned above, on average 94 percent of detainees transferred from the Port Isabel Service Processing Center were sent to detention
locations outside the region.
For Jamaica with a total of 156 transfers, 98 percent of transfers were out-of-region transfers.
At the other end of the range, 80 percent were out-of-region transfers for the 80 transfers from Brazil.