ICE to transfer 1,600 detainees to federal prisons

ICE to transfer 1,600 detainees to federal prisons

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is transferring some 1,600 detainees to federal prisons, an ICE spokeswoman said Thursday.

The detainees will be split between five prisons, with one in Victorville, Calif., taking in 1,000 people, the spokeswoman, Danielle Bennett, said in a statement.

Bennett said that the decision was made in an effort to "meet the demand for additional immigration detention space, both long and short term."

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"To meet this need, ICE is collaborating with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), private detention facility operators and local government agencies," she said.

The need for additional space for ICE detainees comes two months after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment McCabe says he would 'absolutely not' cut a deal with prosecutors MORE announced a "zero-tolerance policy" for people who cross into the U.S. illegally. Unauthorized border crossings have also surged over the past year.

Reuters first reported the planned detainee transfers.

The detainee transfers signal the Trump administration's first large-scale use of federal prisons as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE seeks to crack down on illegal immigration. 

"ICE continues to enforce immigration laws consistent with the administration’s directives and the law," Bennett said. "This includes ensuring sufficient detention space to hold aliens prior to removal or adjudication by an immigration judge."