Harrisonburg protesters head to Farmville

Brent Finnegan -- March 7th, 2009

About two dozen Harrisonburg residents gathered in the parking lot near Klines in preparation to caravan to Farmville, Virginia to protest the approval of a new immigrant detention center there. The People United wants the Farmville town council to rescind their decision to allow Immigration Centers of America (ICA) to build a new facility there.

Organizers believe they have a shot at halting the project. They say that although the Farmville town council has an agreement with ICA, ICA doesn’t currently have an agreement with ICE. Additionally, the 287(g) agreement between ICE and local law enforcement agencies like the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office — which contributes to the number of immigrants being detained — is currently under scrutiny at the federal level.

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15 Responses to “Harrisonburg protesters head to Farmville”

  1. I would have posted this 12 hours ago, but I had a fight with YouTube (hence the Vimeo).

  2. Draegn says:

    The red star flying from the car says it all. Though if Timothy Lincoln reads this, I would like for him to answer the following questions.

    If many of these people had previously had “legal residency papers” why did they let them expire? Shouldn’t these people have a basic responsibility to keep their documents updated?

  3. S Walker says:

    Why is this called an immigrant detention center, isn’t it just for illegal immigrants? What is it with the media today, making it look like everyone is picking on immigrants, when it’s just the illegals that are,, well,, Illegal, and will be held in the center.

  4. Barnabas says:

    Was that a Macy’s bag on top of the car?
    I liked this report Brent, good work. I’ve know you since we were 14 but I’m always impressed with what you do.

    It was mentioned in the video that some people’s papers are in order when they are picked up. Are they then held until their paperwork expires so that they can then be deported? I’m not suprised but it doesn’t seem very fair.
    It sounds like these ICE centers are operating outside of the law.

  5. Thanks, Barnabas.

    ICE doesn’t operate the centers. They just turn detainees over to ICA, a private company that operates the facility. ICE actually yanked all their detainees out of an ICA facility recently.

    If cook happens upon this discussion, perhaps he could speak to why and how people get detained. Also, check out this post from last year.

    Another issue entirely (addressed in the video) is the fact that some of the detainees are NOT being deported immediately. They’re being held “for up to nine months,” according to Josh D.

  6. cook says:

    The question is raised: “why and how are immigrants in Harrisonburg detained?” Any undocumented immigrant CAN be detained and removed. However, as a practical matter that is not feasible, so most removals from Harrisonburg are accomplished by detaining any deportable person entering the local jail. That includes (a) immigrants lawfully present who commit disqualifying crimes and (b) undocumented immigrants who may or may not have committed a crime but somehow end up being booked at the jail.

    INS then ICE has been detaining inmates in Harrisonburg for years, but the implementation of 287(g) in late 2007 stepped up detentions. 287(g) authorizes the sheriff to detain deportable immigrants for ICE, increasing the likelihood that a jailed deportable immigrant will be detained and removed.

    The 287(g) program was sold and is praised as a means to deport “the criminal element,” but the New York Times article cited by Brent says that the program may be coming under scrutiny. And the program should be reviewed. While “removing the criminal element” sounds like a worthwhile goal, in effect the program does not improve the deportation of violent criminals while creating some really perverse incentives and arbitrary outcomes.

    There are many potential responses to this comment from all sides on this issue, but I just want to acknowledge that everything about the issue of 287(g) and detentions is symptomatic. US immigration policy and, as a separate issue, the US immigration bureaucracy is fundamentally and disastrously flawed. Until the foundations are addressed, there really are no satisfactory answers.

  7. BigW says:

    I am heartened to hear the Obama Administration is looking to revise the 287(g) policy. It is not only ineffective, it has been used a powerful threat to keep people “in line” or risk deportation. The example I am aware of is that of a father using it to force a mother to temporarily cede custody of their children under the threat of a contrived criminal complaint for a small offense (such as assault & battery). Once arrested, the mother would become subject to an ICE detainer and deportation, providing the father a very convenient short cut around the court, the mother’s rights, and child support. How many others who have no recourse to the law are being manipulated in a similar way?

  8. johan says:

    unfortunately, bigw, janet napolitano, has also talked about expanding 287(g), so the signals from the administration have been mixed.
    we posted on the state recently about a story on the impacts of immigration policy on the families of immigrants (here’s the link for “-of second-class citizens”).
    hopefully a time of economic turmoil won’t incentivize a further move toward for-profit prison operation in farmville.

  9. rich lightner says:

    If the United States honors fairness and if we consume over 30 percent of the worlds resources…. doesn’t that mean that over 30 percent of the worlds population deserves to be here? That aside, considering the scorched earth foreign policy we continue to have for natives and small villages throughout the world, barring the victoms of our resource greed from coming here seems imperialistic.

  10. Barnabas says:

    Maybe it’s time we expand our Empire to include them.

  11. eso says:

    While I see there are people from Harrisonburg who went, most of these movements are essentially NIMBY protests. “I don’t want a jail in my town/county.”

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