ICA: 249 Jobs

Published 5:25 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

FARMVILLE – More than 1,800 detainees have been “processed” by the Immigration Centers of America (ICA) facility in Farmville-which employs 249-since the facility opened August 5, director of detention Mark Flowers told Town Council Wednesday.

The average length of stay is three to four weeks, he said, and nobody has been released into Farmville.

Flowers, accompanied by three ICA officials, said, “I'm really proud of what we've done to this point. When you sit back and you think where we were eight months ago, bringing in folks that had never worked in corrections and in detention and being able to shape them and mold them and train them, it's just very heartwarming.”

Providing council with an overview, Flowers said there are “exceptions” to the three to four-week average stay “but that's the generic rule.”

“…And I remember the last time I briefed, the question came up were we ever going to release anyone in Farmville and I am proud to say that that has not ever happen,” Flowers said.

Flowers said he could not give a detainee count for the day “because of security,” but he did say there were 53 female detainees, which is unexpected. The facility was built to house males.

“In the original plan we were designed specifically for males (but) the mission for ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) changed. We obviously modified our facility for that and have accommodated that.”

According to Town Manager Gerald Spates, the facility had 11,380 detainee days during the month of March, which averages out to an estimated daily average population of 390 detainees. The Town receives a dollar per detainee per day as a partner in the project.

Flowers said that one of the things he was “most proud of is that we brought 249 jobs into the area, effective today. We have 201 for ICA, and 22 kitchen staff members and 26 medical folks…There are still vacancies if you know someone who's still looking (for a job).”

Applicants for jobs at the ICA facility undergo a rigorous security and background check. Flower said he took him “eight months to get cleared and I retired in 2006 with a secret clearance coming out of the Army, if that's any indication of the depth level that they go back into.”

In the first phase of the background/security check “they really look at the criminal record and the credit reports, and those are fairly easy to get. The second phase they go door-knocking. They go out and everywhere you lived, worked and went to school in the last seven to 10 years Homeland Security has contract investigators that go out and door knock.”

The ICA facility also has remote crews in the Norfolk, Richmond and Fairfax areas who work the feds at immigration detainee processing centers.

“We support ICE agents as they bring folks in and process them,” Flowers explained. “That's where they do their initial classification. They find out what level of custody they are and determining what facility they end of going to.”

Flowers, meanwhile, also said the facility has successfully passed every inspection and has been found in compliance.