U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has acquired new space in federal prisons to house immigrant detainees — more than 1,600 beds.
Because of a "current surge in illegal border crossings" and the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance policy," ICE entered into agreements with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the agency said Thursday.
"The use of BOP facilities is intended to be a temporary measure until ICE can obtain additional long-term contracts for new detention facilities or until the surge in illegal border crossings subsides," ICE spokesperson Danielle Bennett said in a statement emailed to NPR.
A facility in Victorville will house the most detainees — 1,000 — while locations in Seattle; La Tuna, Texas; Sheridan, Ore.; and Phoenix will hold between 102 and 230 detainees.
A former ICE official under the Obama administration, Kevin Landy, called the move "highly unusual," telling Reuters that a "large percent of ICE detainees have no criminal record and are more vulnerable in a prison setting."