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ICE detainee dies after a positive COVID-19 test in Virginia

Posted at 3:12 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 18:33:26-04

FARMVILLE, Va. -- A Canadian man held in the Immigration Centers of America (ICA) Farmville Detention Center in Farmville, Virginia died this week, less than one month after he tested positive for COVID-19.

James Thomas Hill, 72, had been in ICE custody since his April release from Rivers Federal Correctional Institute in Winton, North Carolina.

There he'd served more than 13 years of a 26-year prison sentence on health care fraud and distributing controlled substance charges.

"As an aggravated felon, Hill was subject to mandatory detention by ICE under federal law," a spokesperson for ICE said. "At the time of his death, Hill was in ICE custody pending removal to Canada."

Hill reported breathing problems to the staff at the Farmville facility on July 10. He was taken to the hospital and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.

The Farmville Detention Center is the site of one of the nation's worst COVID-19 outbreaks inside an immigrant detention center.

Concerns mount over outbreak at immigrant detention center

Virginia’s governor and two U.S. senators have urged President Trump to respond the issues at the Farmville facility.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 262 undocumented immigrants are being monitored at the privately-owned Farmville Detention Center after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Washington Post reported last month that immigrant advocates have called the detention center a “tinderbox” of infection.

Gov. Ralph Northam as well as U.S. senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, are urging Trump to send in the country’s top public health agency.

ICE said the majority of those who tested positive were asymptomatic and received “appropriate medical care.”

"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," the ICE spokesperson continued. "Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the national average for the U.S. detained population."

ICE said it would review the circumstances that surrounded the man's death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.