Inside look of new Virginia facility where illegal immigrants will be housed
CAROLINE, VA (WWBT) - NBC12 got an exclusive look into the Caroline Detention Facility in Bowling Green on Wednesday, where illegal immigrants will be held as they wait for administrative hearings.
The facility is located four miles north of the Fort AP Hill on route 301; it sits on 150 acres of land and can house 336 undocumented adult immigrants.
It's the site of the former Peumansend Creek Regional Jail that closed in 2017 and left over 100 people without jobs. A handful of people kept their jobs, maintaining the grounds until July. Then it was announced that Caroline County would enter a five-year agreement with the United States Department of Homeland Security for detention and care of administrative detainees. This was after a year of negotiations.
The facility has seven buildings, including an administrative building and six living quarters for the detainees. Of the six units, one will be used for women and the other five will be used for men.
There is a common area in each unit, but depending on the building you are in, it may look different. In some of the units, the common area includes televisions, seating and recreational activities, like a checker board. In other units, the common area doesn't have TV's because there are televisions inside the cells.
Officials will determine which undocumented immigrants go where, depending on their immigration and criminal history. They are essentially sorted into a "classification system," based on their history and labeled "Low, medium low, medium high, high," based on their backgrounds. Those who are considered to be "higher custody," or detainees with a criminal history, will be held together in one unit with more restrictions.
Ice says in their 2011 Operations Manual ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards:
Each facility is required to have in place a formal detainee classification system that starts at admission and is based on verifiable and documented information. Each detainee's custody classification must be determined through application of the ICE custody classification process described herein or a similar locally established system approved by ICE/ERO, to categorize detainees and physically separate them in accordance with those classification levels.
In each unit, there is a video visitation library, where detainees will be able to video chat with family and friends.
"The way it works is if a family member calls them, it will alert them on the screen," Paul Perry, the superintendent of the detention center said.
Detainees can't call out, but they can answer incoming calls.
Detainees will also get tablets to use for video chats. Perry said they will start with eight tablets per unit and increase that number, depending on demand. This facility is called "state of the art" as it has more amenities than most.
"[On the tablets] you can read your handbooks, any forms you might need, access medical services," Perry said. "Each detainee gets a locker to store their stuff in. Each detainee has a writing surface with a light on top."
There are four people per room.
The detainees will mostly come from the Washington DC ICE field office, but they can come from around the country. According to Perry, per the contract with ICE, the federal government will pay the county $123.15 per detainee per day for housing the minimum number of detainees: 224. For every detainee between 225 and 280, the county will pay $50.08. For 281 to 336 detainees, the county will received $22.08. In all, ICE will manage the facility and will pay Caroline County a little over $30,000 per day.
It is expected that this facility will hold the max amount of people it can have at 336.
The facility is also creating jobs. Already, 47 people have been hired with more expected. Most of the people were let go from the old jail when it shut down.
"The planned move will reinstate up to 120 jobs within the county, which were lost as a result of the closing of the region," Charles Culley, the Caroline County Administrator said in a press release from July.
"This is going to increase sales revenue, tax from sales revenue in the county as well," said Perry.
Right now, the facility is working to align their policies with ICE standards. They hope to begin housing undocumented immigrants by the end of the summer.
Officials expect, on average, detainees will be housed here for about 78 days. According to the county, illegal immigrants are housed here as they wait for their administrative hearing process and to ensure their presence if the courts order them to be deported.
The facility will not house children.
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