Brutality, abuse, and neglect at the Virginia detention center has resulted in the largest COVID-19 outbreak to-date in migrant detention, amongst other human rights violations
WASHINGTON, DC – Local and national organizations specializing in human rights and racial justice today released a new white paper and infographic highlighting the deplorable conditions at Immigration Centers of America (ICA) Farmville.
The white paper synthesizes new documents obtained by way of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation and illuminates a dark pattern of abuse in ICA-Farmville, a privately run U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country. With 339 people testing positive for the virus over time, the for-profit immigration jail is a tinderbox for infection and the pandemic has made the already deplorable conditions, medical neglect, and abuse even worse.
As part of the campaign to demand the urgent release of everyone detained at ICA-Farmville, Advancement Project National Office, La ColectiVA, Sanctuary DMV, Detention Watch Network (DWN), and the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) have worked for months with a coalition of community organizations and the family members of people inside to demand that Virginia elected officials take actions to get people out of the facility, where the overwhelming majority of people inside have tested positive for COVID-19. In June of this year, ICE transferred 74 people from detention centers in Florida and Arizona. The transfer, compounded by the irresponsible management within the facility, led to a dramatic spike in infections. There are currently 259 active cases of COVID-19 confirmed in isolation or under monitoring at the facility (with 339 total cases reported over time), and at least six people inside have been hospitalized with severe symptoms. As people have gone on hunger strikes, guards have used pepper spray and retaliated against protesters as fear spread with the growing number of infections.
To view the full white paper and associated infographic, click here.
“Through documents we received in our FOIA litigation, we have proof that abuse at ICA-Farmville has been going on for years. We have proof of guards using pepper spray on an individual in a restraint chair who was in need of mental health services.” Losmin Jiménez, Project Director and Senior Attorney for Advancement Project National Office’s Immigrant Justice Project, went on to add, “We have proof that weevil larvae was found in the ICA-Farmville food supply and that those who reported it were threatened by ICA-Farmville staff. Some of these documents date back to 2015, now in 2020, ICA-Farmville continues this pattern of abysmal medical care. The only solution is to free all the detainees and shut down ICA-Farmville for good.”
“We must fight for freedom and dignity for everyone affected by this racist, violent system. ICE and its contractors like ICA have a long track record of abuse,” said Alex Q, Organizer with La ColectiVA, who was previously detained at ICA-Farmville. “As someone previously detained at ICA-Farmville, I call on elected officials to end the suffering, racism, violence, mental abuse, oppression, poor health conditions, and hunger. Everyone must be freed and ICE/CBP abolished.”
“ICE and private prison corporations, like ICA, completely disregard the safety and wellbeing of people in its custody resulting in deadly consequences and system-wide abuses,” said Marcela Hernandez, Organizer with Detention Watch Network. “With rising rates of COVID-19 infections and countless calls to free people from detention, now, more than ever, is the time to shut down Farmville and end the inhumane system of immigration detention.”
“The incidents brought to light by these new documents are further proof of what we already know — ICA-Farmville is a dangerous, abusive facility that needs to be shut down immediately,” said Madhvi Venkatraman, Core Organizer with Sanctuary DMV. “These newly revealed incidents also speak to the overall cruelty of migrant detention. We must free them all and work to defund ICE and CBP before we lose more people to this racist system.”
“The new records released today expose a dark history of atrocity within ICA-Farmville, and the inhumanity associated with the profit-driven system of mass detention,” said Jesse Franzblau, Senior Policy Analyst with the National Immigrant Justice Center. “In spite of the well-documented history of abuse, ICA has pursued ICE contracts in efforts to expand its profits to new regions. As a critical step towards ending the use of ICE detention, elected officials should lift up the urgent demands to ensure people’s release to prevent further abuse and deaths in detention.”
La ColectiVA is an inclusive collaborative led by Latinx people who are committed to upholding social justice and equity. La ColectiVA es una colaborativa inclusiva liderada por gente Latinx que están comprometidas a defender la justicia social y la equidad.
Detention Watch Network brings together advocates to unify strategy, build partnerships and strengthen the movement to end immigration detention.
Sanctuary DMV is an all-volunteer solidarity collective resisting harmful policies and practices targeting migrants in DC, Maryland & Virginia. We are committed to abolition at every level, including the complete defunding and dismantling of immigration detention, jails, prisons, ICE, and the police.
National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.
Advancement Project National Office is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.