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ICE Facilities Could Be Subject to Virginia Regulators Under Boysko Legislation

AP Photo / Steve Helber

State regulators may be on their way to inspect detention centers holding people accused of violating immigration laws.

Virginia regulators will be able to go inside detention facilities in Farmville and Caroline County if Senator Jennifer Boysko of Herndon gets her way. Her bill making Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities subject to state inspectors has already passed a Senate panel.

“There is rampant COVID-19 infection at the Farmville facility. In fact, 75% of the detainees have tested positive," she says. "No longer will we stand by while our neighbors are detained in facilities that threaten their health and I include the employees who work at those facilities who put themselves in harm’s way.”

Simon Sandoval Moshenburg of the Legal Aid Justice Center says state regulators can inspect these facilities holding federal detainees as long as the standards they’re enforcing aren’t more stringent than the standards that apply to local facilities. He also says state regulators shouldn’t have to fight in court to get access. 

“The horror stories we’ve heard from clients within the facility can’t be overstated," he says. "Without this bill, the governor, the Health Department and the Department of Corrections were left essentially knocking on the door and asking voluntary permission of the facility management can we please come in.”

Nobody testified in opposition to the bill, which passed on a party line vote; Democrats in favor of allowing state inspectors into the facilities and Republicans opposed.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.