OGDEN — Apparently concerned about deficiencies at the Weber County Jail, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement abruptly removed its immigration detainees from the facility this week.
ICE would reveal little about the decision, and the Weber County Sheriff's Office didn't seem to know what prompted the move.
"There's no official report," said sheriff's spokesman Capt. Klint Anderson. "We don't know what issues there are."
Calls to Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson and the jail commander were not returned.
About 30 inmates were moved from the Weber jail to the Utah County Jail on Wednesday after what ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice called "careful deliberation."
The transfers, she said, would allow the ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations to "conduct a thorough review of the Weber County Jail to ensure it is in full compliance with the agency's stringent national detention standards."
Furthermore, she said ICE is "providing all possible assistance to help the county correct any deficiencies."
The federal agency has agreements with Weber and Utah counties to house people detained for being in the country illegally. The ICE contract with Weber, which has been in place since March of 2009, pays Weber County $55 per person per day, Kice said.
That contract with Weber County will remain in effect while the review is under way, but in the meantime ICE will house detainees elsewhere, she said.
Kice would not identify any specific deficiencies or say whether the review is related to the recent death of a Bosnian woman held in the jail.
Amra Miletic, 47, was found unconscious in her cell the night of March 20 and rushed to McKay Dee Hospital where she died of an apparent heart attack, according to ICE. The state medical examiner determined the cause of death through an autopsy.
A legal permanent resident, Miletic faced deportation due to a criminal history that included convictions for cocaine possession and obstructing justice. She had been in jail since Feb. 1.
Salt Lake attorney Ed Flint represents two Bosnian refugees who were transferred from Weber County last week, one of whom went to the Purgatory Correctional Facility near St. George. Flint said his clients told him they were moved because of a death in the Weber jail.
A local immigration attorney who did not want to be identified said an ICE agent recently told him the agency could no longer use the Weber County Jail because of some unspecified problems there.
Anderson said he didn't know if the death prompted the ICE audit, noting Miletic died of "natural causes."
The county, he said, is anxious to hear the outcome of the review. "We're waiting for the results of that inquiry, then we'll have a better idea of what they found and what concerns them," he said.
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