Arizona is home to the facility where the largest number of immigration detainees are initially held in the nation, new data show.
More than 7,600 people were initially detained at the Florence Staging Facility between November and December 2012, according to a new report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group. That's followed by two locations in Texas: Brooks County jail in Falfurrias where 4,615 people were initially held, and the Rio Grande Valley Staging Facility, with 4,556 detainees.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, is a nonpartisan research organization associated with Syracuse University.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials wouldn't comment on the report this week citing a need to review it.
Individuals were first processed at these locations and then deported, released or transferred to more permanent detention facilities. The Florence Staging Facility is also used as a regional transportation hub to fly individuals who are from countries other than Mexico to their places of origin.
The number of people picked up by Customs and Border Protection and transferred into ICE's custody may be a contributing factor to the high number at the Florence facility, said Maurice Goldman, a local immigration attorney.
Seven out of every 10 individuals were originally detained in states along the Southwest border.
The biggest share comes from Texas, where 24,811 people were detained between November and December last year - more than twice as many as in Arizona or California.
Still, Goldman says his law firm has seen an increase in the number of people being picked up and detained by immigration officials in the last several months.
"It seems like not a day goes by that we don't get a least one phone call from a family member of someone who has been picked up by Border Patrol or ICE," he said. "We are still seeing a good amount of people who get turned over to (ICE) based on traffic violations."
TRAC based the state location on the place where ICE recorded the person as entering its custody since the agency hasn't released information on where the person was initially apprehended, the report says.
Nearly 8,500 individuals were picked up across the country and detained by ICE during a typical week, TRAC reported, "If activity levels continue at this pace, ICE will detain around 400,000 individuals during the current fiscal year."
And what happens to detainees in immigration custody also varies widely by state.
Arizona has the second-highest state removal rate at 84 percent, only after New Mexico, with 88 percent, TRAC reported Wednesday.
On StarNet: Find extensive coverage of immigration issues at azstarnet.com/border
Total number of individuals detained by ICE in November and December 2012
TOP 5 STATES
TOP 5 FACILITIES
Where people were initially detained
• Florence Staging Facility (Arizona): 7,650
• Brooks County Jail in Falfurrias (Texas): 4,615
• Rio Grande Valley Staging Facility (Texas): 4,556
• The Laredo Contract Detention Facility (Texas): 2,022
• San Diego District Staging Facility (California): 1,857
Source: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Contact reporter Perla Trevizo at email@example.com or at 573-4213. On Twitter: @Perla_Trevizo