Virginia immigration jail lawsuit resolved with settlement

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Federal authorities on Wednesday reached a settlement with immigration advocates that restricts the use of a privately run detention center in Virginia that saw a massive coronavirus outbreak two years ago.

The settlement in federal court in Alexandria restricts the Farmville Detention Center, run by Immigration Centers of America, from accepting more than 180 detainees at any time over the next two years. That’s 25% of the facility’s overall capacity.

In 2020, a judge barred the center from accepting any new detainees after an outbreak led to the death of a 72-year-old Canadian detainee, and a 90% positivity rate among the facility’s 300 detainees.

Advocacy groups that filed suit on the detainees’ behalf said only two detainees are currently held at the site.

Judge Leonie Brinkema faulted authorities for the outbreak, saying a “bureaucratic circus” resulted in the transfer of a large group of detainees from Florida and Arizona without any quarantine, despite jail policies against such transfers.

The National Immigration Project, one of the organizations that filed the lawsuit, said 15 individual plaintiffs who were detained at Farmville will also receive undisclosed financial settlements under the agreement.

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