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By the end of the year, the Utah County jail will end its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which houses undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation or appeal hearings.

A 120-day transitional period began Aug. 9 to remove the inmates who make up about 20 to 30 percent of the jail's population on a typical day, said Utah County's Chief Darin Durfey.

On Wednesday, 279 ICE detainees — who came from Utah, Idaho, Montana and other surrounding states — represented nearly a third of the jail's 960 inmates, Durfey said.

While the reasoning behind the change is "multifaceted," Durfey said, one of the main reasons is that the jail has become overcrowded.

The jail has had an influx of local offenders who need to be housed in the jail, Durfey said, and workers have been on "mandatory overtime" because the facility is "short-staffed."

"We enjoyed a very good relationship with our local ICE partners," Durfey said, adding that both parties knew the separation was going to happen, but because of the surge in local offenders, it happened "sooner than expected."

"Either we build a new facility or we terminate our contract with ICE," Durfey said.

The contract between Utah County jail and ICE has existed since March 2010, according to ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok, and before the formal contract, ICE had housed detainees at the facility since at least 1993.

"ICE is currently evaluating the best housing alternatives available in the area," Rusnok said in a statement. "All efforts will be made to remove the ICE detainees from the facility within the 120-day contractual deadline."

While the details of ICE's plan to move inmates was still unclear on Wednesday, Durfey said there were no other major facilities he knew of with large ICE contracts in Utah, Idaho or Montana.

Washington County provides some bunks, Durfey said, but the nearest facility with a large contract that he knew of was in Henderson, Nev.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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