Settlement allows ICE to resume operation

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2022

BY MEGHAN MCINTYRE

The Farmville Herald

A federal court in Alexandria reached a settlement agreement Wednesday, July 6, that restricts the privately run Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) facility in Farmville from detaining more than 180 people at a time over the next two years. The detention center, managed by Immigration Centers of America (ICA), can now resume accepting transferred individuals only if they are vaccinated, asymptomatic and test negative for COVID-19.

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg is the legal director of the immigrant advocacy program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, one of the organizations that filed the lawsuit in August 2020 on behalf of 15 immigrants detained within the facility.

ICA-Farmville made headlines that year for a massive COVID-19 outbreak, which at one point saw 93% of detainees testing positive and one death.

“ICE showed a reckless disregard for human lives when they transferred COVID-positive detainees into ICA-Farmville without adequate testing or isolation, even by the standards of what was commonly known in summer 2020,” Sandoval-Moshenberg said in a news release from the Legal Aid Justice Center. “This settlement will make sure that never happens again.”

The settlement also details that all dormitories in the detention center must be capped at 30 individuals and three must remain unoccupied unless needed for the purposes of quarantine or medical isolation. If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs, which is defined as three positive cases among detainees or staff within the previous seven days, transfers into the facility will be paused for 14 days.

The detention center has not been allowed to receive any new detainees since August 2020 following the injunction issued by a federal judge. The number of detainees declined to single digits over the next two years.

There are one or two people being detained in the facility as of Monday, July 18, Sandoval-Moshenberg said.

Representatives for ICE and ICA-Farmville director Jeff Crawford were contacted multiple times and said they would respond for comment. However, no response was received from either at press time. Farmville Mayor David Whitus and Town Manager Dr. Scott Davis also did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.