Transfers of ICE Detainees from the
San Francisco Hold Room
San Francisco, California

Detainees Transferred
Number last 12 months 1,300
Out of total detained 2,104
Facility ranking on transfers top 14 %

Table 1: Transfers

During the most recent 12 month period for which data are available, a total of 1,300 detainees were transferred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from the San Francisco Hold Room where they had been temporarily housed to other facilities. The average stay for these individuals before their transfer was less than a day. This is a special ICE holding area or staging location that under current ICE detention standards is allowed to temporarily house aliens for up to 12 or 16 hours. These types of units generally have no sleeping quarters or shower facilities.

Transfers made up 62 percent of the 2,104 detainees who in one way or another left this facility during the last 12 months. This report focuses just on these transfers. The remaining individuals who departed from the San Francisco Hold Room 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 1.7 million government records tracking each individual who passed through an ICE detention facility during fiscal year 2015. This most recent 12 month period for which comprehensive data are available covers October 2014 through September 2015. See About the Data.

How This Facility Ranks Nationally

Detainee transfer rankings. The San Francisco Hold Room was one of 637 facilities nationwide that housed ICE detainees during the most recent 12 month period. Of these 637, there were 409 facilities that had at least 10 ICE detainee transfers last year. Excluding those facilities with fewer than 10 transfers, the San Francisco Hold Room last year ranked in the top 14 percent nationwide in the number of individuals it transferred to other ICE facilities. This means that 14 percent of the locations contributed the same or a larger numbers of transfers, while 86 percent had a smaller number. See Table 1.

Average length of stay before transfer. Once detainees arrived at the San Francisco Hold Room their average length of stay before being transferred on to another ICE facility was less than a day last year. Ranking facilities from longest to shortest detention stays for their transfer population, this average of less than a day placed San Francisco Hold Room in the top 76 percent of all facilities nationwide. That is, for detainees who are transferred, 76 percent of ICE detention facilities have the same or longer average stays last year, while 24 percent of detention facilities had shorter average stays.

Origins and Destinations

Were these detainees arrested locally? Where did those that ended up being transferred from the San Francisco Hold Room last year originate? Information on the place of arrest was not included in the available data ICE released. However, we can examine whether the San Francisco Hold Room was the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held. According to ICE records, for the majority (71 percent) of these detainees, the San Francisco Hold Room was the first place they were sent when they were detained by ICE. The remaining 29 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. A total of 72 percent arrived at the San Francisco Hold Room 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 1 days last year. That means that half of all transfers occurred on or before the 1st 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 longer - 12 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.

For the San Francisco Hold Room last year, the median stay before a detainee was transferred was less than a day. This is less than the national figure. The average stay before transfers occurred was the same - less than a day - than the median stay. As noted above, this figure placed the facility in the top 76 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 152 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, 54 percent were within the same DCO, while the remaining 46 percent were to a different DCO.

Transfers Facility Profile U.S Overall
Profile (%)
Number Percent
Within region (DCO) 1,180 79% 54%
Outside region (DCO) 319 21% 46%
Total 1,499 100% 100%

Table 3: Transfer destinations during last 12 months

Figure 2 and accompanying Table 3 provide some comparative figures for how the San Francisco Hold Room stacks up against this national pattern. Last year, 79 percent of the transfers from the San Francisco Hold Room were to locations in the same region -- facilities under the control of same ICE docket control office. Only some (21 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 41.3 percent of all transfers recorded Mexico as their country of origin. The San Francisco Hold Room had a large proportion of detainees from Mexico - 59 percent - among their transfers. Detainees from Mexico were also the largest single nationality group among the transfers at the facility.

Pie chart of nat

Figure 3: Transfers by nationality

In descending order, the top nationalities that made up transfers from the San Francisco Hold Room last year were: Mexico (59%) , El Salvador (12%), Guatemala (12%), Honduras (5%) and China, Peoples Republic Of (2%).

For the frequency for each of the nationalities among transfers from the San Francisco Hold Room last year see Table 4.

Nationalities Ranked in Top 10 Transfers
Total To Diff. DCO % Diff DCO
- ALL 1,499 319 21.3 %
1 Mexico 887 60 6.8 %
2 El Salvador 180 98 54.4 %
3 Guatemala 179 72 40.2 %
4 Honduras 76 40 52.6 %
5 China, Peoples Republic Of 28 0 0.0 %
6 Philippines 27 5 18.5 %
7 Nicaragua 19 10 52.6 %
8 Colombia 14 9 64.3 %
9 Ecuador 8 7 87.5 %
India 8 1 12.5 %
Peru 8 0 0.0 %

Table 4: Transfers by nationality
during the last 12 months

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 88 percent. As mentioned above, on average 21 percent of detainees transferred from the San Francisco Hold Room were sent to detention locations outside the region.

For Ecuador with a total of 8 transfers, 88 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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