A privately-run immigration detention center in Farmville and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has settled a lawsuit that alleges they failed to provide safety and medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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By summer of 2020, almost every person held there was infected and a judge ordered ICA Farmville to stop accepting detainees. Now, the facility that was designed for more than 700 people holds just two detainees.

Under the terms of the July settlement, the detention center will be allowed a maximum of 180 detainees with rules about vaccination and testing for two years or until the CDC declares an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. ICE has no plans to end its contract with the private company Immigration Centers of America (ICA) and the town of Farmville, according to an ICE spokesperson.

In a press release, Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, a lawyer at Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) who represented Farmville detainees in the suit, said that his clients are still suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19. “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,” he said.

LAJC is part of the Free Them All Coalition, which is seeking the closure of the facility and release of those who are detained there.

An ICE spokesperson sent a statement to Charlottesville Tomorrow that the agency prioritizes health and safety. “ICE uses a variety of detention models to meet agency needs and maintain detention standards, while achieving the most cost-effective use of taxpayer funds,” the statement said.

ICA continues to receive more than $2 million each month from ICE to run the Farmville detention center, while the Town of Farmville receives about $15,000 a month.

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Angilee Shah

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