Canadian man dies in ICE custody after being held at Farmville Detention Center with COVID-19 outbreak

Canadian man dies in ICE custody after being held at Farmville Detention Center with COVID-19 outbreak
Farmville Detention Center (Source: WDBJ)

FARMVILLE, Va. (WWBT) - A 72-year-old Canadian man has died while in ICE custody after being held at the Farmville Detention Center, where there is a large outbreak of COVID-19.

As of Friday, Aug. 7, there have been 339 positive COVID-19 cases at the ICE Farmville Detention Center and is the nation’s worst outbreak at an immigration detention center. Currently, 259 cases are under isolation and being monitored.

James Thomas Hill, 72, died on Wednesday around 11:42 p.m. at Lynchburg General Hospital after undergoing treatment for COVID-19 for several weeks.

According to a release, Hill was admitted to Centra Southside Community Hospital on July 10 in Farmville after he told staff that he was experiencing shortness of breath. He was then transferred to the hospital in Lynchburg the following day where was tested for COVID-19. It came back positive.

Hill was taken into ICE custody on April 15 after serving more than 13 years of a 26-year prison sentence at a correctional institute in North Carolina. He was convicted in 2007 for health care fraud and distributing a controlled substance.

A judge ordered his removal on May 12 and was waiting on deportation to Canada when he died in ICE custody.

“ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive, agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases. Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the national average for the U.S. detained population,” a release said.

Due to the large outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility, Gov. Ralph Northam, as well as U.S. senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, have urged President Donald Trump to send in the country’s top public health agency.

Dozens of demonstrators also gathered in July to protest ICE and the facility after news broke of the high number of detainees who have tested positive for the virus.

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