Feds Transfer Illegal Immigrants Held At LA Detention Facility

A number of illegal immigrants at a federal detention center have been transferred to other facilities, authorities said Saturday.

The detainees were moved while authorities perform maintenance and conduct inspections at the center located in Los Angeles' San Pedro section, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

The agency wouldn't say when or where the detainees were relocated or how many, citing security concerns.

It also declined to give more information about the maintenance work, but said "the need for preventative maintenance was identified during a facility evaluation."

"ICE continuously inspects all of its detention facilities to ensure they adhere to the highest standards," the agency said.

The detention center, one of several nationwide to come under scrutiny from immigrant and civil rights groups, usually houses several hundred illegal immigrants facing deportation.

The facility lost its accreditation in August after failing to comply with mandatory standards, but ICE said the transfers were unrelated.

Citing agency policy, ICE has declined to release the inspection report by Alexandria, Va.,-based American Correctional Association or elaborate on why the facility failed the renewal inspection, done every three years.

Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said he was never informed one of his clients, an immigrant born in Ethiopia, had been recently moved to a facility in San Antonio, Texas.

He was critical of the transfers.

"This means they will be detained longer for no good reason," Arulanantham said. "Many of them have family in the area."

The San Pedro center came under sharp criticism last summer when a transgender Mexican immigrant with AIDS being housed there died while in custody.

The family claimed Victor Arellano was improperly denied medical attention, a contention immigration officials rejected.

A lawsuit filed by the ACLU in June, aiming to stop immigration authorities from forcibly drugging deportees, cited an immigrant allegedly drugged at the San Pedro facility.

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