Former Virginia jail to house illegal immigrants

Former Virginia jail to house illegal immigrants

CAROLINE, VA (WWBT) - A former jail in Caroline County will house illegal immigrants after an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Caroline Detention Facility - formerly known as the Peumansend Creek Regional Jail - "will house adult male and adult female immigrants who have illegally entered the United States and house no children," Caroline officials said in a news release on Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors approved a five-year agreement with Homeland Security to house the illegal immigrants.

"The purpose of detention services at the Caroline Detention Facility is to assure illegal immigrants' presence during their administrative hearing process and assure their presence for removal from the United States pursuant to a lawful final order by an Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals or other Federal judicial body," Caroline officials said.

The agreement took effect July 1.

Caroline officials says the facility "will provide a safe and modern facility to house adults going through the process. Using the facility in this manner prevents other entities from taking control and using the facility for other uses which could have a harmful impact to the county."

At Los Dos Amigos Restaurant in Caroline County, this is a conversation that was inevitable. The owners are from different countries, so they have strong opinions - and so do their customers.

Gerald Tejada is just opening up his Mexican Restaurant in Caroline. For him, it's part of fulfilling a dream.

"I'm trying to make another day," he said.

It's why he can relate to those who travel to the United States at any cost.

"To get a better life. There's a dream for everyone. 90 percent [of undocumented immigrants] like to have a better dream, a better life," Tejada said.

Just a few miles down the road, more than 300 undocumented immigrants could be detained at the old Peumansend Creek Jail.

It won't cost Caroline County a dime. In fact, the county could receive nearly $28,000 per day for housing the minimum number of undocumented immigrants. Per the contract, the jail will have to house at least 224 detainees, but no more than 336 detainees.

These terms were made under a five-year deal, restoring 120 jobs lost when the jail closed last year.

"That would be great. That would be perfect. Nothing could be better for Bowling Green than that," said Peggy Wright.

"Not really happy with that," Tara Byrd countered.

There are mixed reactions from diners just learning the news.

"I don't think they belong here. It makes me concerned when we start bringing them in and detaining them, because how long is it going to be for?" Byrd said.

"We were hoping someone would come in there...I do think we should secure the borders, but I don't think we should separate parents and kids, regardless of how they got here. Just keep them together and decide whether you're going to allow it or not and take the whole family," Wright said.

As of now, it's a done deal. Folks like Tejada just want to make sure everyone has a shot at fulfilling a dream.

"We are human beings, and we got to take care of the country too," he said.

The ACLU says it "strongly objects" to this move and raised concerns the deal was discussed behind closed doors without giving the public any input:

Under the agreement, announced today in a news release from the county, DHS will pay the county for use of the former Peumansend Creek Regional Jail to imprison people rounded up under the Trump administration's on-going inhumane and unconstitutional attack on undocumented immigrants.

Caroline's County Manager says most contracted deals - including this one - are discussed in private with the vote happening in public.

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