The Gulag Archipelago Goes to Farmville

Virginia’s Gulag Archipelago keeps growing.

Back a decade or so ago, Republican Gov. George Allen got attention for his proposals to expand the state’s prison system. That was then.

Today, the hot idea is to create “detention centers” for those hordes of illegal immigrants that we all know are overrunning the Old Dominion doing such awful things as working as gardeners or in poultry or crab-picking plants.

Up in places like mostly white and affluent Prince William County, the Republican board of supervisors won’t tolerate such Barbarians at the Gate. County police are under orders to check the citizenship of anyone stopped for any crime, including running a stop sign. They are finding that their provincial nationalism if not racism is expensive

Once you round up all of those illegal immigrants, typically dark-skinned and Spanish-speaking ones, where do you put them while they are waiting to be deported back to Mexico City or Tegulcigalpa or wherever?

The Town of Farmville and a tiny Richmond-based outfit called ICA-Farmville have an idea.

They have won approval from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a $21 million detention facility that will have 1,040 beds just for the typically dark-skinned people waiting the weeks or months for deportation. Town Manager Gerald Spates said that Farmville can use the detention center because it will employ about 200 people, have a $8.2 million payroll a year and generate more than $700,000 in taxes. Farmville is a college town with a few furniture stores so it can use the money.

The detention center was originally planned for Cumberland County but was rejected. “We decided it would be a good fit and we were very supportive of it,” Spates told me. So, Farmville sought and won an ICE contract for the facility.

The managers of the detention (or minimum security prison depending upon your point of view) is an outfit based in Richmond called ICA/Farmville. ICA stands for “Immigration Centers of America” and its principals include Ken Newsome who is also president of AMC Bakery in Richmond. Other partners are Warren Coleman and Russell Harper of Harper Associates in Richmond. ICA-Farmville did not return repeated phone calls.

I could not find out if ICA-Farmville had any experience running detention centers with human beings. I did find out that Newsome gave money to Republican Jim Gilmore’s senatorial campaign, however.

That’s not the only politically-connected contribution involved. The project has won two grants for $581,760 for water, sewer and other infrastructure for the center from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. This is the highly politicized body that decides how the state’s share of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with four tobacco companies will be spent.

So, once again, we have people in Virginia making a buck trading in human lives. Richmond, after all, used to be the nation’s No. 1 slave auction center. It raises other points as well:

The number of illegal immigrants has dropped below the 12 million estimate, Pew Research says. The reason is obvious. With the economy heading south fast to recession it’s harder to find jobs. Plus, the immigration crackdowns have made dark-skinned Spanish people skittish about being around whether they are illegal or not. With trends such as these, one wonders about the long term viability about the Farmville project.

The Washington Post has reported that ICE’s admininistration of illegals in Virginia is a bad joke. It takes lots of time and money to move captured suspects around and haul them hither and yon to appear before a judge, often via videoconferencing. The system the Post says, is beset by waste and dysfunction. Maybe the detention center is a good idea, if this is the case. But shouldn’t efforts be made to fix the system first before building prisons?

You have to wonder what the tobacco commission people are thinking. Why are awful projects like this considered so worthy of our share of the tobacco company settlement. Let me give you an idea what other states do with their tobacco money. In North Carolina, the Golden Leaf Foundation, that state’s tobacco commission, has given $20 million to Historically Black North Carolina Central University to create the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE). The purpose of BRITE is to help train minority college students for jobs with top pharmaceutical firms in Research Triangle Park nearby.

Funny that when I mentioned this contrast to an editor of mine up in the DC area, he just laughed and said, “Well that’s Virginia for you.”

I still am puzzled why this state and some of the people in it are so inclined to create prisons. Spates tells me that the detention facility will feature bunk style housing with televisions and computers.

But let’s face it. It is still a prison. A handful of private investors will profit from it. Farmville will scarf up some limited tax dollars. And instead of using public money for more worthy purposes, such as helping train a new generation of drug researchers, Virginia will merely end up with more cooks and prison guards and “Cool Hand Luke” style wardens.

What we have here is “Failure to Communicate.”

–Peter Galuszka


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23 responses to “The Gulag Archipelago Goes to Farmville”

  1. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “A handful of private investors will profit from it.”

    Now that’s Virginia for you.

    I’d like to drill a little deeper into this and find out exactly where the profit is in housing/feeding/transporting over one thousand illegal immigrants.

    I would think they will somehow bill/invoice each locality that sends them illegal immigrants but who knows. The Fed’s might be picking up the entire tab.

    Only in America, baby.

  2. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    This reminds me of the scene from Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke movie where Mexicans call the authorities on themselves in order to get a free bus ride back to Mexico.

    In a horrible economy, 3 squares, a TV, and a computer sound pretty appealing…not to mention the free ride home. They’ll be back again when their services are needed.

    Once again, xenophobia trumps smart spending. Does this mean we are all safe and free now?!

  3. Larry G Avatar

    From Farmville’s view, they are only trying to get a piece of the same pie that NoVa has….

    they’re after jobs and a better local economy… the specifics of how that happens is, from their perspective, a mere detail.

  4. Larry G Avatar

    I’m curious.

    If an illegal alien is detained/deported what happens to their assets – not only their personal and real property but social security, bank accounts, etc?

  5. Groveton Avatar

    Ahhh….Farmville….

    Prince Edward Couty – right? The county that closed its public schools for 5 years rather than integrate those schools. The white kids went to a “segregation academy” called the Fuqua School. The Fuqua School continued as an all – white private school until 1986 when financial conditions deteriorated to the point that it admitted some black kids.

    Farmville ….

    The place where Davis vs. the County School Board of Prince Edward Island arose. The case was incorporated into Brown vs. the Board of Education. The case involved RR Morton High School. Here’s a description of that school:

    “R.R. Moton High School, an all-black school in Farmville named for Robert Russa Moton, suffered from terrible conditions due to underfunding. The school did not have a gymnasium, cafeteria, or teachers’ restrooms. Teachers and students did not have desks or blackboards, and due to overcrowding, some students had to take classes in an immobile school bus parked outside. The school’s requests for additional funds were denied by the all-white school board.

    As a result of the Brown decision, in 1959 the Board of Supervisors for Prince Edward County refused to appropriate any funds for the County School Board at all, effectively closing all public schools rather than integrate them.”.

    Farmville ….

    Home of Hampden Sydney. A good college but still all male. I guess they’re making sure that they avoid the very real possibility of coodies.

    Farmville ….

    The future home for a prison to lock up illegal aliens who run stop signs in Prince William County.

    But there is some good news. The most famous person hailing from Farmville is Robin Yvette Allen. Never heard of Robin? That’s because she performs rap music under the name Lady of Rage for Death Row Records. I wonder what they think of that over at the Fuqua School.

    Only in Virginia, baby.

  6. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I once went on a date with a woman who grew up in Farmville. She seemed pretty reasonable and nice. But then, we didn’t talk about the town’s history.

    TMT

  7. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “I am particularly concerned about bad policies because significantly higher taxes have been proposed by Barack Obama. His plan would raise the marginal tax rate on the most productive workers more than 10 percentage points — an increase that would bring us near Western European levels. His plan would also raise capital income taxes, taxing capital gains and dividends at 20%, compared to a 15% rate under Sen. John McCain’s plan. A five percentage-point difference might strike you as small, but it is not. I have calculated that a five percentage-point difference in overall capital income taxation over the long haul is equal to a difference in the nation’s capital stock of about 18%. This means a 6% difference in GDP and a 6% difference in the average wage rate. This means that real GDP and the average wage would fall, gradually but persistently declining about 6% after 25 years. That’s not quite a Great Depression, but a significant step towards one.

    What should be done? We should encourage the immigration of prime-age individuals. Beginning in 2007, net immigration fell to half of its level over the previous five years. Increasing immigration would increase the demand for housing and raise home prices. And note that the benefit would be immediate. Home prices — and the value of subprime obligations — would rise in anticipation of a higher population base. The U.S. particularly needs highly skilled workers. These workers not only would purchase homes, but would generate higher living standards for all Americans.”

    Greg Mankiw

    And of course, we might not need that jail in Farmvlle.

    RH

  8. Groveton Avatar

    Farmville is probably a fine place. I just keep wondering how a small town keeps ending up in the middle of these controversies.

  9. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Groveton,
    I’m not sure these small communities are aware or care. Anyway, news accounts said Hampden Sydney folk were worried, presumably about the ehtics of this deal. Local folk didn’t want families and hangers on settling in Farmville since their loved ones were being detained.
    Hey, one of my adopted hometowns is in Eastern N.C. I started my journalism career there. My dad was a doctor. In 1974, a spectacular black/white; male/female murder occured in the local jail that captured global headlines. I was three months on the local rag having just graduated from college. I covered this from day one. While the town made some serious mistakes it wasn’t the “In The Heat of the Night” spot that many far-away journalists made it out to be.
    So, my sympathies and understanding is generally with the small towns. In the case of Farmville, however, as you correctly point out, there is one hell of a lot of baggage.

    Peter Galuszka

  10. Larry G Avatar

    just fyi – check this out for more background/info on the subject…

    it was Norfolk and the then Gov of Virginia Lindsay Almond closed six all-white schools in Norfolk rather than agree to court-ordered desegregation in 1958.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2008/09/special-report-fighting-massive-resistance

  11. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “We should encourage the immigration of prime-age individuals”

    It will happen…..they just won’t be from Mexico and S. America…..They will be from India, China, etc.

    Rather then export more high-tech jobs, I foresee a scenario where we import more high-tech workers.

    Stay tuned.

  12. Larry G Avatar

    we should do this rather than improve our own education system so we can have more of our own folks become high-tech workers?

  13. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “we should do this rather than improve our own education system so we can have more of our own folks become high-tech workers?”

    Have no fear, our education system will improve at some point so we won’t have import the workers.

    Until then we will go through a period of time where our only choice will be to import the workers (for the reasons RH mentions) or export the jobs.

  14. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    http://www.newsneconomics.com/2008/10/next-shoe-to-drop-state-and-local.html

    Immigration? What a laugh. Has anon been vacationing on Mars? There isn’t going to be any immigration because there aren’t going to be any jobs, especially high tech ones. And reading the above, there isn’t going to be any social safety net either.

    As far as this Farmville deal goes, it ain’t gonna happen. Which is really too bad. America will need another homeless shelter with a ready supply of farmland.

  15. Larry G Avatar

    interesting chart at the referenced URL.

    I wonder where Virginia fits in the list…

  16. Larry G Avatar

    For Groveton (and others who think that on the “unenlightened” backwater communities of Virginia participated in Massive Resistance.

    …”After the 1958 school closings, the Charlottesville Education Foundation raised money to open “good private schools, operated on a racially segregated basis, [that] will contribute to the tranquility of the community…” and make “demonstrations and strife unlikely…”

    source:
    LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA COLLECTION

    more at:

    http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2008/10/09/COVER-schools-closed1958-B.aspx

  17. Groveton Avatar

    Yes Larry:

    Massive Resisttance did not happen. Nor did the Holocost. You and your apologist friends just keep saying “everything was fine back then”. And NoVA will keep honoring Harry Flood Byrd by renaming streets in his honor. Nothing happened. Nothing bad occurred. That Viginia’s story and you’re sticking to it.

    There are some guys in northern Idaho who would like to meet you.

  18. Larry G Avatar

    I’m not apologist Groveton.

    I think you are clueless with respect to me.

    Even though I went to a desegregated high school, I never considered myself aligned with those who made it so.

    I was never ashamed because I never had an inch or ounce of belief in what they were doing – and I made it clear.

    I knew it was wrong – from the moment I realized that blacks went to separate schools but when you’re a kid – about the best you can do – is not agree with what you’re told.

    What I’m pointing out is that for those who think that segregation was the work of inbred backwoods bigots – it was not and to this day – is not.

    It was supported by many, many people – who to this day will respond to a poll that they’ll vote for Obama – but when they get into the booth they will not.

    When you have University professors .. involved in creating segregated schools – you oughta realize just how systemic the problem was – and still is .. as we all surely know that most of those folks from the middle east are closet islamo-fascists.

  19. Groveton Avatar

    Who said that segregation was the work of inbred, backwoods bigots? The city of Alexandria was one of the most segregated places in the south right up through the 1970s. The movie Remember The Titans was a huge joke. Alexandria didn’t lead the way in desegregation – they were just about the last area to desegregate. And when the football coach in the movie tells one of the players that maybe he should play for one of the all white high schools “in the county” it makes me wonder what county he could be talking about. Arlington? Farifax? They were desegrated years before Alexandria.

    Nope. Racism in Virginia was an inter-regional matter. It was everywhere.

    But some places had a more virulent form of the racism plague. Warren County, Prince Edward County, Richmond, Alexandria. All went “above and beyond” the dispicable average level of racism in Virginia as a whole.

  20. Jeff Winder Avatar
    Jeff Winder

    Richmond Investors Plan to Cash in on Immigrant Detainees

    by Jeff Winder

    Changing immigration enforcement policy has left federal authorities struggling to cope with rapidly rising numbers of detainees. A controversial partnership in Farmville, VA proposes to address the crisis with a 1,040 bed, for-profit immigrant detention center.

    During 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted raids of historic proportions, arresting hundreds of undocumented workers at a time in Iowa, California, Mississippi and most recently, South Carolina. Virginia has not been immune to this trend. 2008 saw a sharp increase in ICE activity with raids in Amelia, Harrisonburg, northern Virginia and the high-profile arrest of 33 construction workers at the nearly completed Richmond federal courthouse.

    ICE, a federal agency hastily created under the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of September 11th, is floundering as they try to cope with this influx, creating dangerous conditions for those detained. Recent investigations by the Washington Post and New York Times thoroughly document a pattern of medical neglect in ICE detention that has resulted in dozens of preventable deaths.

    A partnership between ICE, the city of Farmville, VA and a private company proposes to address this crisis with a new 1,000-plus bed immigrant detention center in the small, southside Virginia town. Immigration Centers of America – Farmville (ICA) plans to break ground on October 15th and be operational by June of 2009.

    Information about ICA and their qualifications to run a detention facility has been withheld from the public. The company, owned by two real estate developers and the CEO of a company that sells industrial mixers to bakeries, does not have a web site.

    According to the Virginia Corporation Commission website, they first filed in June of 2007. This was just one month before the first of two grants was requested from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, a state-administered fund whose stated purpose is “to make payments to farmers to compensate for the decline of tobacco quotas and to promote economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities.” The fund awarded the projects two grants totaling nearly $600,000 to pay for water, sewer, roads, parking lots and fencing.

    Spokesperson Tim Pfohl said the grants were awarded based on a formula that projects how quickly a community will “recapture” the grant monies in the form of tax revenues. When questioned on the qualifications of ICA to manage this facility, he said, “Our job is not to weigh their ability to do the job. That is for the federal folks to figure out. We accept the receipt of a federal contract as proof of their qualifications.”

    But during an October 2nd interview, ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha denied that there is any commitment yet by the federal government to house prisoners at the Farmville facility. “We have only signed a transportation agreement with Farmville so far. We have not committed to using any facility if it was built. We are, however, working with the city to ensure that any facility built would be to ICE standards.” When asked about the qualifications of ICA to run the facility, Rocha said, “It would be premature to talk about staffing or process, but our only contract is with the city of Farmville. You will have to talk to the town manager.”

    Gerald Spates, Farmville town manager, had this to say about ICA, “Well, I’ll grant you, they are new at this, but they have been trying to get this project going for five years. The key is in the highly qualified personnel that they will bring in.” He suggested contacting ICA directly but also agreed to respond to a series of question about the background of ICA, the roster of upper-level employees that they plan to bring in and the financial arrangements by October 7th. He failed to provide any of this information and has not returned phone calls since then.

    An unidentified spokesperson at the offices of ICA declined to answer any questions and said that all information about the plans would have to come from Gerald Spates. A call to real estate developer and partner in ICA Warren Coleman resulted in this statement, “We have a policy of not giving any information about this project. All of that has to come from ICE.”

    “We’ve been hearing horror stories about detainees being put into prison with other criminals when all they have done is be here without documentation. Our goal is to keep them safe,” Spates continued, “But I want to be honest with you. We do stand to gain financially from this.”

    During a public meeting in Farmville, ICA spokesperson Ken Newsome projected that at 85% capacity the facility will generate $322,000 annually in fees for the City in addition to an estimated $450,000 in tax revenue for Farmville and Prince Edward County. According to the Washington Post, if the facility does run at the projected capacity, ICA stands to gross $20 million in federal tax dollars annually.

    Privately-run immigrant detention centers of this type have been plagued by scandal, lawsuits and controversy. The private-prison watchdog group Grassroots Leadership, has documented a pattern of abuses. They cite examples including a center in Elizabeth New Jersey that was shut down temporarily when immigrants were awarded $2.5 million in damages after an investigation showed that poorly trained guards served rotting food and physically and mentally abused prisoners. ICE turned the facility over to Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), despite this group also having a documented history of abuses in its facilities. In March of last year, nearly 1,000 immigrant prisoners in the 1,500 bed facility run by CCA in Lumpkin, GA, went on a hunger strike protesting conditions including lack of medical care.

    Private companies like ICA profit from inefficiency in the immigrant detention system. A recent article by the Washington Post documents immigrants languishing in ICE custody for months even after signing a voluntary deportation order. This means more days of space “purchased” from companies like ICA at taxpayer expense.

    The demand for these spaces is at an all-time high with the recent increase in ICE raids and all indications are that it will continue to rise. Under the Secure Communities plan, ICE will be expanding enforcement efforts and initiating deportation proceedings against any noncitizen, documented or not, who is arrested.

    Viable alternatives to immigrant incarceration do exist at a fraction of the cost. With their Appearance Assistance Program, the Vera Institute for Justice achieved a 93% appearance rate in court including final appearances at a cost of $12 a day. ICA’s $63 dollar per day rate is at the low end of the range of per diem charges in the region where Alexandria tops the list at $113 daily.

    Shenandoah Valley community organizer Patrick Lincoln questions the role of corporate lobbyists in setting immigration policy, “The criminalization of immigrants is about feeding a profit driven prison system. It’s no coincidence that alarm about immigration has mirrored a national decrease in crime, a slow-down in the growth of the prison system and a shrinking in the profits of companies like the Corrections Corporation of America.”

    Community activists express concerns about the impact plans for the prison are having on the immigrant community in Virginia. Prince William County (PWC) is the most noteworthy in a series of new state and local level laws that target immigrants. Despite vigorous community opposition, the PWC board of supervisors unanimously passed a resolution that denies social services to immigrants and increase powers of local law enforcement officers to inquire into immigration status. This trend, along with the increase in ICE raids has helped to create a climate of fear among immigrants and resulted in many families leaving the area.

    “For a lot o
    f the people I have talked to this new prison is the last straw,” said community activist Sue Frankel-Streit, speaking of her involvement with the Louisa Pan-American Friendship Committee. The Louisa County group was started by Latin-American immigrants who met at an English class. They work to dispel myths about immigration by hosting dinners at local churches where immigrants and citizens can get to know each other. “Knowing that a 1,000 bed immigrant prison is opening just 40 miles from here is causing people to think maybe it is time to leave this country. It disgusts me that we treat people this way.”

    “We are seeing people who have already been hurt by our economic policies victimized again,” said Teresa Stanley of the advocacy group Sowers of Justice. “These people are only trying to work to support their families. They contribute hundreds of millions to the Virginia economy and they are being locked up so that corporations can reap a profit.” This was a reference to a study released this year by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis which found the annual tax contribution of undocumented workers in Virginia to be over $400 million.

    As an increasingly popular immigrant destination and home to some of the most repressive local immigrant ordinances in the country, Virginia is often in the national spotlight. “We want this facility to be a model that other localities can use,” said Spates. For better or worse, it does appear that the fate of this facility will be an indication of how communities will respond to immigration during the years to come.

    For more information about regional opposition to the plan:
    http://www.thepeopleunited.org

  21. XbiscuitsX Avatar
    XbiscuitsX

    Greetings Farmville Business Community,
    We are a collection of many individuals and organizations through out Virginia including The People United, Occoneechee Village, Occoneechee-Saponi Indian tribe of Virginia, and the Richmond Anarchist Black Cross. We are writing with concerns regarding an important subject, affecting your community (as well as ours).
    Our concerns are around the proposed 1,000 bed immigration detention center, to be constructed in Farmville. The groups involved in this are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the city of Farmville and private security firm Immigration Centers of America. The vast majority of people who would be detained at this facility are innocent Native Americans who have lived on the American continent for tens of thousands of years. They have been moving freely on the American continent during this time. Borders, laws , slavery, forced relocation and prisons have been used since 1492 as part of a genocide against innocent Native Americans. Barry Carter, Occoneechee Indian from Mecklenburg County Virginia, whose people have lived in Southside Virginia for over 10,000 years, said: “In 1714 if we went north of the James River border we were illegal aliens. Then in1830 it became illegal for us to come east of the Mississippi River border. Then we were illegal aliens when we crossed reservation borders out west. Now it is the Rio Grand River. How can we be illegal just for being in the place we have been for over 50,000 years. How would you feel if someone came into you house, that has been in your family for 100 years, and at gun point made up a rule and drew a line in your house, where you could be imprisoned just for going from one room to another “in your own house”. Many of our people died and are still dying, families are being split up, children are being put in foster care so that others make money. It is time to end the genocide and come together”
    A second concern is that this detention center will be run by a private company, Immigration Centers of America, that has never before run any sort of prison or detention center. This brings up serious concerns about the treatment and care that would be given to any detainees by an inexperienced company. This is on top of the usual concerns that any for-profit prison creates. Nationally, there have been at least 83 documented questionable deaths at immigration detention centers, according to the Washington Post in May of 2008. The cause of these deaths is most likely mistreatment, abuse, and neglect of human beings.
    As business owners, we understand that the potential economic impact of an immigrant detention center might be an issue of great interest to you. There is often the perception that brining a new prison to town will stimulate the economy, and create new jobs. You might even be hoping that the construction of an immigration detention center will help your business. Unfortunately, studies are now showing that private prisons do not have the positive economic impact that many have hoped. One article, available on our website, says:

    “‘We found no evidence that prison expansion has stimulated economic growth,” Hooks said of the nationwide study that assessed of the impact of both new and existing prisons over the past 25 years. In fact, in findings that proved the most dramatic reversal of conventional wisdom on the subject, the new study concluded that becoming home to a prison facility may actually hinder economic development efforts, particularly in rural communities that are already hard-pressed.”

    The town of Farmville and its business community will not gain from the construction of another prison. Instead, the reputation of the town will worsen, and most likely economic growth will slow. Farmville should look for healthier and more positive ways to stimulate the local economy. Building more prisons simply will not do so.

    Many members of the Farmville community have already taken a stance against this detention center. We all understand that times are hard, and it is politically difficult to be against anything that would provide jobs in a community. However will we do anything for money? Innocent Native Americans stay in these prisons for months and each day that they are confined within these private prison produces $60 to $100 per prisoner, per day, for the private company. This is slavery of the 21st century. This is blood money. And we don’t think it is the Christian thing to do.
    For more information, or to learn how you can join us in our campaign please contact us. We have a website, http://www.thepeopleunited.org as well as email, jeff@thepeopleunited.org. If you want more information, call regional organizer Jeff Winder at 434-906-0421.
    We sincerely appreciate your time, and hope that you will treat this matter with the gravity it deserves. Lives are at stake.
    Hope to hear from you,
    The People United

  22. XbiscuitsX Avatar
    XbiscuitsX

    Greetings Farmville Religious Community,
    We are a collection of many individuals and organizations through out Virginia including The People United, Occoneechee Village, Occoneechee-Saponi Indian tribe of Virginia, and the Richmond Anarchist Black Cross. We are writing with concerns regarding an important subject, affecting your community (as well as ours).
    Our concerns are around the proposed 1,000 bed immigration detention center, to be constructed in Farmville. The groups involved in this are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the city of Farmville and private security firm Immigration Centers of America. The vast majority of people who would be detained at this facility are innocent Native Americans who have lived on the American continent for tens of thousands of years. They have been moving freely on the American continent during this time. Borders, laws , slavery, forced relocation and prisons have been used since 1492 as part of a genocide against innocent Native Americans. Barry Carter, Occoneechee Indian from Mecklenburg County Virginia, whose people have lived in Southside Virginia for over 10,000 years, said: “In 1714 if we went north of the James River border we were illegal aliens. Then in1830 it became illegal for us to come east of the Mississippi River border. Then we were illegal aliens when we crossed reservation borders out west. Now it is the Rio Grand River. How can we be illegal just for being in the place we have been for over 50,000 years. How would you feel if someone came into you house, that has been in your family for 100 years, and at gun point made up a rule and drew a line in your house, where you could be imprisoned just for going from one room to another “in your own house”. Many of our people died and are still dying, families are being split up, children are being put in foster care so that others make money. It is time to end the genocide and come together”.
    A second concern is that this detention center will be run by a private company, Immigration Centers of America, that has never before run any sort of prison or detention center. This brings up serious concerns about the treatment and care that would be given to any detainees by an inexperienced company. This is on top of the usual concerns that any for-profit prison creates. Nationally, there have been at least 83 documented questionable deaths at immigration detention centers, according to the Washington Post in May of 2008. The cause of these deaths is most likely mistreatment, abuse, and neglect of human beings.
    We urge you to learn more about this situation, and then join us in a campaign against the construction of such a negative institution. Other national faith organizations, such as the Presbyterian church, have come out against private prisons. For profit prisons place inmates at serious risk for having their needs overlooked in the scramble to make a profit.
    While recognizing the many differences between different Christian denominations and different religions, we hope that the need for respect for human life will speak to you. This potential detention center is a morally relevant issue for all in the Commonwealth, and it deserves the attention of the faith community as well.
    Many members of the Farmville community have already taken a stance against this detention center. We all understand that times are hard, and it is politically difficult to be against anything that would provide jobs in a community. However will we do anything for money? Innocent Native Americans stay in these prisons for months and each day that they are confined within these private prison produces $60 to $100 per prisoner, per day, for the private company. This is slavery of the 21st century. This is blood money. And we don’t think it is the Christian thing to do.
    For more information, or to learn how you can join us in our campaign please contact us. We have a website, http://www.thepeopleunited.org as well as email, jeff@thepeopleunited.org. If you want more information, call regional organizer Jeff Winder at 434-906-0421.
    We sincerely appreciate your time, and hope that you will treat this matter with the gravity it deserves. Lives are at stake.
    Hope to hear from you,
    The People United

  23. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Minor criminals? I don’t think so. They are all released. Now as far as the rapists and child molestors are concerned I guess all you liberals want them preying on your family instead of being detained at a detention facility. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

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