Immigrant’s Rights Groups March Against Immigrant Detention Center

Farmville, VA – Hundreds are expected from across Virginia at a 3/7 rally and march in Farmville, VA in opposition to plans for a new privately-run immigrant detention center slated to open in June of this year.

The project, a partnership between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the private company Immigration Centers of America (ICA) and the Town of Farmville has generated criticism since it was approved in the fall of last year. The protest is organized by the Virginia Immigrant People’s Coalition, a network of organizations concerned with immigrant justice.

“This is an extension of a failed immigration policy,” said Ricardo Juarez, of the immigrant’s rights group Mexicanos sin Fronteras, that coordinated the campaign against the controversial anti-immigrant resolution in Prince William County, VA last year.

“The jobsite raids and detentions are hurting the families in our communities while doing nothing to address the root causes of forced migration. Real security for our communities will come when we renegotiate trade agreements like NAFTA that have hurt workers on both sides of the border,” he added.

“ICA, a new company run by two real estate developers and the CEO of an industrial bakery supply, has no experience in detention. They propose to address this deficiency by hiring experienced staff from Piedmont Regional Jail. “This does nothing to reassure us,” said Sue Frankel-Streit, an organizer with The People United.

“With two detainees dying from medical neglect in two years, Farmville has a terrible track record,” Frankel-Streit continued referring to a scandal that erupted in the New York Times and Washington Post last month and ultimately resulted in ICE halting all detentions at Piedmont. Two members of the Farmville Town Council, which is to have oversight of the proposed new facility, had upper-level management positions at Piedmont when the deaths occurred – Edward Gordon as Medical Director, and Donald Hunter and Assistant Superintendent.

In the wake of increased jobsite raids in Virginia, plans for the have sent ripples of fear through the immigrant community and generated organized resistance to the project. “We are here to say No More Jails,” said Margarita Gonzalez, a Mexican immigrant to Louisa County, VA. “We are only trying to create secure lives for ourselves just as you are and we hope you will leave us to live in peace.”

Protest organizers expect buses and caravans from Tidewater, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Northern VA, DC, Winchester, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Blacksburg and Lynchburg. Interviews are available with organizers from each of these cities.

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