100 signatures reached
To: Russell Harper, Warren Coleman, and Ken Newsome
Demand ICA Release All Detainees
On August 5, 2020, James Hill passed away, alone in ICE custody. Mr. Hill, 72, contracted COVID-19 while detained in the Immigration Centers of America’s (ICA) for-profit prison in Farmville, VA. His scheduled date of release was July 9, 2020. At present, 97% of detainees at ICA-Farmville have been infected with COVID-19 (the highest rate of any immigrant detention facility in the country) due to crowded, inhumane conditions, poor medical care, lack of oversight, and transfers of detainees from COVID-19 hotspots, such as Florida and Arizona, without following quarantine protocol.
Mr. Hill is not the first victim of ICA’s fatal negligence; the Farmville facility has a history of failing to meet the appropriate standards and putting detainees’ lives at risk. In October 2011, Anibal Ramirez-Ramirez died from liver failure following ICA’s “failure to communicate critically important information, inadequate medical screenings, and inexcusable delays in referral to higher-level care” (ACLU, February 2016). Four days after Mr. Ramirez-Ramirez’s death, ICA-Farmville failed their annual inspection, with the report citing that, among other things, only half of ICA’s guards had received basic CPR training. Both Mr. Hill and Mr. Ramirez-Ramirez died in Virginia hospitals still separated from their friends and family.
Recently released documents (from ICE under a FOIA request) confirm an unconscionable pattern of abuses at ICA-Farmville: a shackled detainee pepper sprayed in the face and tied to a bed for two days; threats of sabotaged immigration cases in retaliation for public complaints about maggot-infested food; a man unjustifiably chained to a restraint bed for four days. Most recently, those who have spoken up regarding the lack of protection from COVID-19 have been pepper sprayed and forced into isolation (NPR, June 2020). This cannot stand.
The privatization of ICE detention centers has made it profitable to neglect, terrorize, and cage human beings, and incentivizes the negligent cost-cutting at ICA-Farmville that has resulted in two deaths and the nation’s largest ICE facility COVID-19 outbreak. Those who have profited from this maladministration include investors Russell Harper, Warren Coleman, and Ken Newsome—all of whom have built wealth from the dehumanization of detainees. We must free the people who have been denied freedom of movement by ICA and ICE. We must Free Them All before more are killed.
Our demands for Russell Harper, Warren Coleman, and Ken Newsome are as follows:
1) Disband ICA and put the liquidated assets into immigrant bonds and mutual aid funds.
2) Begin a reparations program for undocumented people who have been harmed at Immigration Centers of America.
3) Issue a public apology and public impact statement on the effect ICA has had on people who have been, or are currently, detained in the ICA facilities and their families.
We demand that any institutions affiliated with these individuals, such as James Madison University, The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Richmond, Sheltering Arms, etc., publicly condemn and cut all ties with ICA and those associated with the business.
Those who do not hold these individuals to account are complicit in the harm inflicted upon immigrants and families impacted by ICA detention. We urge these institutions to join us in our demands for restitution from those responsible for these harms and to echo our call to Free Them All.
Why is this important?
Privatized ICE detention exacerbates the mass incarceration crisis created by the U.S. prison-industrial complex. Mass incarceration allows those in power to continue to exploit, forcibly displace, abuse and profit from people who are marginalized, disenfranchised, criminalized, and silenced.
As one particularly brutal wing of this privatized system, ICA-Farmville has a history of failing inspections, failing to prevent and contain disease outbreaks, and failing to treat our immigrant friends, family, and neighbors with basic human dignity. Their profit-focused management has resulted in maggot-infested food, mumps and COVID outbreaks, and repeated inappropriate and unnecessary uses of force. Join our call to tell the investors who made this operation possible that profit from pain is inhumane.