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DWN calls for shutdown of ICA Farmville

The Detention Watch Network (DWN), a national coalition that aims to abolish immigration detention in the U.S., has released a list of the first 10 immigration detention centers it hopes to see shut down in the first year of the Biden administration.

The Immigration Centers of America (ICA) Farmville facility has made it onto that list.

DWN’s “First 10 to Communities Not Cages” campaign, launched Thursday, Feb. 25, was kicked off with the release of a report detailing the first 10 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities the group hopes to see shut down this year.

“The ‘First 10’ detention centers are emblematic of how the immigration detention system as a whole is inherently abusive, unjust and fatally flawed beyond repair,” Silky Shah, executive director of DWN, was quoted in a Thursday press release. “ICE’s detention system does not need to exist. The Communities Not Cages campaign works with local community organizations to end it and build a better future for everyone. Simply put, people navigating their immigration case should be able to do so with their families and loved ones — not behind bars in immigration detention.”

Among the list of initial sites DWN hopes to see closed is ICA Farmville.

Jeff Crawford, the director of the Farmville ICE facility, told Farmville’s Town Council in July the facility has 240 employees.

In the report, officials cited a variety of grievances with the Farmville facility, including an alleged history of overcrowding and the center’s massive 2020 coronavirus outbreak which saw more than 90% of detainees contract the virus and led to the death of a Canadian immigrant.

“The Farmville Detention Center exemplifies the egregiously poor conditions and culture of violence that plague the entirety of ICE detention resulting in system-wide abuses, including death,” DWN officials stated in the report. “ICA promotes this system for profit and is aggressively seeking to expand its role in it, hiring 34 lobbyists over six years to market its cause. However, ICE’s immigration detention system does not need to exist, and communities across the country are organizing to end it and build a better future.

“We demand the immediate closure of Farmville as part of a first step towards the abolition of this country’s inherently cruel and unjust immigration detention system.”

“Every day that ICA Farmville remains open is a threat to the dignity, health and lives of our families and community members,” Marcela Rodriguez of the Latinx activist group La ColectiVA stated in the release. “ICA Farmville, like all jails and prisons, is a site with a long track record of brutality, abuse and neglect that can only come to an end with the facility being shut down. As people who have experienced the violence of ICA and ICE in Virginia and our community, we demand the Biden administration immediately shut down ICA Farmville, all detention centers and free everyone to be with their loved ones.”

Multiple Town of Farmville officials did not respond to a request for comment regarding the report or the potential effects a closure of ICA Farmville could have on the town.

“ICE is committed to ensuring that all those in our custody reside in safe, secure and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement,” an ICE spokesperson stated Monday, March 1.