Transfers of ICE Detainees from the
Theo Lacy Facility
Orange, California

Detainees Transferred
Number last 12 months 2,089
Out of total detained 2,096
Facility ranking on transfers top 10 %

Table 1: Transfers

During the most recent 12 month period for which data are available, a total of 2,089 detainees were transferred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from the Theo Lacy Facility where they had been temporarily housed to other facilities. The average stay for these individuals before their transfer was 20 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 almost 100 percent of the 2,096 detainees who in one way or another left this facility during the last 12 months. This report focuses just on these transfers.

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 Theo Lacy Facility 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 Theo Lacy Facility last year ranked in the top 10 percent nationwide in the number of individuals it transferred to other ICE facilities. This means that 10 percent of the locations contributed the same or a larger numbers of transfers, while 90 percent had a smaller number. See Table 1.

Average length of stay before transfer. Once detainees arrived at the Theo Lacy Facility their average length of stay before being transferred on to another ICE facility was 20 days last year. Ranking facilities from longest to shortest detention stays for their transfer population, this average of 20 days placed Theo Lacy Facility in the top 37 percent of all facilities nationwide. That is, for detainees who are transferred, 37 percent of ICE detention facilities have the same or longer average stays last year, while 63 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 Theo Lacy Facility last year originate? Information on the place of arrest was not included in the available data ICE released. However, we can examine whether the Theo Lacy Facility was the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held. According to ICE records, for a few (3) of these detainees, the Theo Lacy Facility was the first place they were sent when they were detained by ICE. Virtually all 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 44 percent arrived at the Theo Lacy Facility 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 Theo Lacy Facility last year, the median stay before a detainee was transferred was 11 days. This is longer than the national figure. The average stay before transfers occurred was longer - 20 days - than the median stay. As noted above, this figure placed the facility in the top 37 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) 2,891 59% 54%
Outside region (DCO) 2,037 41% 46%
Total 4,928 100% 100%

Table 3: Transfer destinations during last 12 months

Figure 2 and accompanying Table 3 provide some comparative figures for how the Theo Lacy Facility stacks up against this national pattern. Last year, 59 percent of the transfers from the Theo Lacy Facility were to locations in the same region -- facilities under the control of same ICE docket control office. A substantial proportion (41 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 Theo Lacy Facility had a large proportion of detainees from Mexico - 53 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 Theo Lacy Facility last year were: Mexico (53%) , El Salvador (10%), Guatemala (8%), Ghana (6%) and Honduras (3%).

For the frequency for each of the nationalities within the top 10 among transfers from the Theo Lacy Facility last year see Table 4.

Nationalities Ranked in Top 10 Transfers
Total To Diff. DCO % Diff DCO
- ALL 4,928 2,037 41.3 %
1 Mexico 2,633 1,019 38.7 %
2 El Salvador 473 332 70.2 %
3 Guatemala 370 230 62.2 %
4 Ghana 297 56 18.9 %
5 Honduras 164 101 61.6 %
6 Somalia 139 26 18.7 %
7 Bangladesh 136 45 33.1 %
8 Nigeria 50 20 40.0 %
9 Cameroon 47 4 8.5 %
10 Pakistan 45 10 22.2 %

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 9 percent to 70 percent. As mentioned above, on average 41 percent of detainees transferred from the Theo Lacy Facility were sent to detention locations outside the region.

For El Salvador with a total of 473 transfers, 70 percent of transfers were out-of-region transfers. At the other end of the range, 9 percent were out-of-region transfers for the 47 transfers from Cameroon.

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