End ICE in Farmville

Below is the letter we and 108 other organizations sent to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security on December 14th, 2021, urging him to immediately end Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) contract with the town of Farmville, VA and close the detention facility located there. 

December 14, 2021 

Hon. Alejandro N. Mayorkas 
Secretary of Homeland Security 
U.S. Department of Homeland Security 
2707 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE 
Washington, DC 20528 


Dear Secretary Mayorkas:  

On behalf of coalitions, organizations and communities in Virginia and Washington, D.C., as well as supporters from across the United States, we urge you to promptly act to terminate the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract with the Town of Farmville, Virginia and close the Farmville Detention Center, to bring an end to over a decade of well-documented abuse, mistreatment and medical neglect of immigrants in custody. We ask this Administration to fulfill its promise to our communities by “mak[ing] lasting improvements to our civil immigration detention system” [1] by ending immigration detention at ICA-Farmville.  

ICA-Farmville has long forced detained immigrants to endure terrible conditions including excessive use of force, solitary confinement, and limited access to counsel and family members. Due to the facility’s mismanagement during the COVID-19 pandemic, in July 2020 more than 300 people in detention—93% of the population of those detained—became infected, in what was at the time the largest outbreak at any such facility in the country.[2] One immigrant died as a result of ICA-Farmville’s cavalier attitude toward people in dentention’s health and welfare.[3]  

Unfortunately, this was not the first time someone died because of medical neglect at the facility. By ICE’s own account, in 2011, a 35-year-old man died while detained at ICA-Farmville due to the facility’s failure to properly provide a medical screening and delays in referring him to appropriate medical care.[4] 

Such abuses and mismanagement have only grown worse over the past two years. In 2019 and 2020, guards used excessive force against people detained who protested their unsafe conditions by deploying pepper spray and holding people in solitary confinement.[5] By ICE’s own records, for years ICA-Farmville has been plagued by use-of-force issues, unjustified use of restraints, and unsafe contaminated food.[6] 

For this reason, several national civil rights organizations such as the ACLU and Detention Watch Network have identified ICA-Farmville as a priority for closure due its long history of egregious conditions.[7] And yet, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump Administration was planning to expand ICA-Farmville’s detention capacity, in order to detain more residents of Virginia and the District of Columbia. 

Ending the ICE contract with the Town of Farmville will protect immigrants and their families across Virginia and Washington, D.C., and benefit all residents of those jurisdictions. Reducing ICE detention capacity in a state has been shown to reduce arrests that lead to immigration detention.[8] We do not want our neighbors, our essential workers, and our immigrant communities to have to endure abuse in the facility; and we do not want to face a surge in policing and ICE enforcement activity in our communities just to fill currently empty beds, were the facility to re-open for new detained people. ICE is currently paying to maintain thousands of empty beds across the country at enormous taxpayer expense, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars.   

Now is the time to act. Due to a court injunction resulting from ICA-Farmville’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis, the facility currently holds an all-time low of 12 people in detention, down from an average of well over 700 prior to the beginning of the pandemic. Closing the facility would not result in a major disruption of operations. 

The below-listed organizations urge your administration to exercise its option to end ICE’s contract with the Town of Farmville, and allow each of the remaining people in detention within the facility to submit a request for release on appropriate conditions of supervision. Cancelling this contract will not only put an end to ICA-Farmville’s long record of abuse, but it will also exemplify the Biden Administration’s commitment to fulfilling its promises of fair and humane treatment of immigrants across the nation.   

We request a meeting with your office to discuss this matter.  Thank you. 

[1] U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “ICE to Close Two Detention Centers,” DHS (May 20, 2021), https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/05/20/ice-close-two-detention-centers.

[2] Antonio Olivo and Gregory S. Schneider, “Northam, U.S. senators ask for CDC/s help with covid-19 outbreak at immigrant detention center,” The Washington Post (Jul. 29, 2020), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/northam-us-senators-ask-for-cdcs-help-with-covid-19-outbreak-at-immigrant-detention-center/2020/07/29/0e5d96ba-d0ef-11ea-9038-af089b63ac21_story.html; Antonio Olivo and Nick Miroff, “ICE Flew Detainees to Virginia so the Planes Could Transport Agents to D.C. Protest. A Huge Coronavirus Outbreak Followed,” The Washington Post (Sept. 11, 2020), https://www.washingtonpost.com/coronavirus/ice-air-farmville-protests-covid/2020/09/11/f70ebe1e-e861-11ea-bc79-834454439a44_story.html; Jenny Gathright, “Inspection Finds ‘Systematic’ Failings in Farmville Immigrant Detention Center Response to COVID-19 Outbreak,” WAMU (Sept. 10, 2020), https://wamu.org/story/20/09/10/inspection-finds-systematic-failings-in-farmville-immigrant-detention-center-response-to-covid-19-outbreak/.   

[3] Id.

[4] ACLU, DWN, and NIJC “Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention” (Feb. 2016), Fatal Neglect ACLU-DWN-NIJC.pdf (detentionwatchnetwork.org)

[5] National Immigrant Justice Center, “Statement of the National Immigrant Justice Center, House Committee on Homeland Security Hearing, Oversight of ICE Detention Facilities: Examining ICE Contractors’ Response to COVID19” (July 13, 2020), https://immigrantjustice.org/sites/default/files/content-type/commentary-item/documents/2020-07/NIJCStatement_HouseHomelandSecurityCommitteeHearing_2020-07-13.pdf; Downs v. Hott, No.1:19-cv-00882 (E.D. Va.).

[6] La ColectiVA, “New Documents Illuminate a Dark Pattern of Abuse in ICA-Farmville” (Aug. 18, 2020), https://lacolectiva.org/farmvilleabusehttps://www.documentcloud.org/documents/7035556-Excerpt-From-ICE-FOIA-Re-Abuses-at-Farmville.html

[7] ACLU, “Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas Regarding ICE Detention,” (April 28, 2021), www.aclu.org/letter/letter-dhs-secretary-mayorkas-regarding-ice-detention; DWN, “Detention Watch Network Escalates Communities Not Cages Campaign to Shut Down 10 ICE Detention Centers,” (Feb. 25, 2021), https://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/pressroom/releases/2021/detention-watch-network-escalates-communities-not-cages-campaign-shut-down.

[8] “Settlement with Bristol County Sheriff Would Uphold Release of Immigration Detainees,” WBUR (Apr. 8, 2021), https://www.wbur.org/news/2021/04/08/bristol-county-sheriffs-office-ice-settlement; “ICE to Close Two Detention Centers,” Department of Homeland Security (May 20, 2021), https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/05/20/ice-close-two-detention-centers.  



Statewide organizations or coalitions in Virginia or Washington, DC:

ACLU of Virginia

The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

Free Them All VA

The Humanization Project

Justice Forward Virginia

Just Neighbors

Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice Virginia

Legal Aid Justice Center

Marijuana Justice

National Lawyers Guild – DC Chapter

New Virginia Majority

Progress Virginia

Virginia Civic Engagement Table

Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights

Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations

Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP)

Virginia Organizing

Virginia Student Power Network

National organizations or coalitions:

African Communities Together (ACT)


Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center

Defending Rights & Dissent

Detention Watch Network

Doctors for Camp Closure

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Muslim Voices Coalition

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

National Immigration Project (NIPNLG)

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Panamerican-Panafrican Association

People’s Party

Project South

Rainbow Beginnings

Refugee Congress

Rights Behind Bars

Saphron Initiative

UndocuBlack Network

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice

State or local organizations or coalitions outside Virginia or Washington, DC:

Aldea – The People’s Justice Center

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action – Maryland

Chacon Center for Immigrant Justice at Maryland Carey Law

Immigrant Action Alliance

Indivisible Central Maryland

Indivisible Howard County

Justice for Migrant Families WNY

Just Peace Circles, Inc

Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention

Mariposa Legal, program of COMMON Foundation

Maryland Against ICE Detention

Migrant Center for Human Rights

Our Revolution, Howard County, MD

The Peace and Justice Coalition of Prince George’s County Maryland

Together We Will Harford County/Upper Chesapeake, Inc

UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic


Local organizations or coalitions in Virginia or Washington, DC:

ACLU People Power Fairfax


Central American Resource Center

Central Virginia Sanctuary Network

Charlottesville Immigrant Freedom Fund

Congregation Action Network

The Dream Project


Friends United for Equity & Grassroots Organizing

Georgetown Law’s International Migrants Bill of Rights (IMBR) Student Organization

International Human Rights Law Clinic, American University Washington College of Law

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington

La ColectiVA

Metro DC DSA

Nolef Turns

Northern Virginia Family Service

Nova Branch DSA

Restoration Immigration Legal Aid

Richmond Southerners on New Ground

Showing Up for Racial Justice Northern Virginia

Sin Barreras Without Barriers

The Sistas In Prison Reform

Tenants and Workers United


United For Social Justice

Private law firms:

Abrenio Law


Benach Collopy LLP

Cruz Law PLLC

Dzubow & Pilcher PLLC

Grossman Young & Hammond, LLC

The HMA Law Firm PLLC


Immigrants First PLLC

Jezic & Moyse, LLC

Law Office of Dan D. Park

Law Office of Timothy W. Davis, LLC

Law Offices of Brenna Torres, Esq.

L&L Immigration Law, PLLC

Marmol & Marmol, PLLC

Manelis Law PLLC

Mason & Black LLP

Montecinos Immigration Law LLC

Norris Law Group

Powell Law PLLC

Raleigh Immigration Law Firm

Satnam Singh, PC

Smith Immigration Law, PLC

Sudeste Immigration Lawyers PLLC

Tohidi Law Office PLLC

Ungvarsky Law, PLLC

Yacub Law Office

Zeman and Petterson, PLLC

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com