The Paper received a copy of this question and answer pamphlet written by Immigration Centers of America, the private firm looking to build a federal immigration detention center in Dwight. The Planning Commission voted yes on an annexation agreement at its public hearing on Tuesday, February 19. The village board can override that recommendation when it votes on the agreement at its Monday, March 11 regular board meeting.
Officials from ICA were at the February 19 meeting to answer questions from the public and the commission. To help answer some of those questions for those who weren’t there, here is ICA’s pamphlet that given to the commission and village board members, unedited.
Who is ICA?
Immigration Centers of America (ICA) is a private company that provides facilities to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to humanely house male detainees.
ICA has successfully operated a facility in Farmville, VA since 2010. ICA’s mission is to provide safety, integrity, security, compassion and respect in every facet of our operations.
ICA provides a safe and secure facility for detainees, offering superior health care, recreation and visitation rights. ICA consistently operates at the highest standards.
Is ICA a government agency?
No, ICA is a private entity which provides a needed service to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security while individuals are awaiting processing in the immigration court system.
Does ICA profit from detaining individuals?
The federal government contracts with private corporations to provide detention services because contracted detention facilities are more cost effective than facilities owned and operated by ICE, thus saving taxpayer dollars.
The cost of providing these services is strictly negotiated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and, as with any business arrangement, there are both profits and losses.
How do you compare the ICA to a traditional for-profit prison?
ICA is a company that focuses solely on providing exceptional detention and transportation services for ICE. ICA is required to meet much more rigorous standards than local or state corrections departments, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or the U. S. Marshall services.
ICA has a proven track record of providing innovative solutions in the areas of visitation, recreation, and programming that greatly enhance the quality of life of the individuals in our custody. We have demonstrated our ability to create a culture that puts the health, safety, and well-being of those in our custody as the highest priority and to operate the facility at the highest standard levels set by ICE, the American Correctional Association, and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. We have been certified and re-certified by both Associations, as well as receiving grades of 100% compliance with all ICE standards on our annual audits for the last 4 years.
How is ICA regarded in the corrections/detainment industry?
ICA is highly respected and proud of our strong track record of providing safe, secure and compassionate services to the populations we serve.
In fact, ICA’s facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association, a designation held by less than 8 percent of the approximately 3,300 jails and detention centers in the U.S.
Additionally, we’re certified by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, a designation held by less than 7 percent of detention and correctional facilities.
Very few facilities have both designations.
Many of the leadership and executive staff hold national certifications in the industry, serve on industry related boards and committees, and are called upon to give workshops and presentations at professional development conferences at the national level on issues affecting detention.
Does ICA house children who were separated from their families at the border?
It is anticipated that this facility will hold only adult male detainees. ICA has never held immigrant children that have been separated from their parents at the border. ICA facilities will never house families or separated children.
Is ICA involved in arresting or individuals to be detained?
Absolutely not. ICA is a holding facility and has no enforcement authority whatsoever. We simply hold individuals that have been lawfully arrested and ordered detained by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency or a judge while they proceed through the immigration court system.
Do detainees receive medical treatment at the facilities?
Yes. ICA facilities provide medical, mental health and dental care for detainees. We anticipate a medical staff which includes two full-time doctors and dentists, a psychiatrist and multiple mental health (2-3) providers, a radiology technician and numerous members of the nursing staff. We expect a total medical staff complement of approximately 50 individuals. All staffing plans will be based on Immigration Health Services Corps (IHSC) requirements and approval.
The medical department has been accredited by the National Commission of Correctional Health Care, a designation held by less than 7 percent of detention and correctional facilities in the United States.
What type of mental health services do you offer to detainees?
We take a holistic approach to mental health and view it as an essential part of the healthcare of our detainees. Detainees have access to licensed professional counselors, psychiatrists, life-skill support groups, anger management classes, and substance-abuse support groups.
What type of legal help do detainees get?
Detainees have a right to legal representation. ICA has a law library on site for detainees to use, as well as law library computers in every housing unit. ICA also makes meeting space available for detainees to receive legal counsel and provides video conferencing technology for remote court appearances, if needed.
We currently cooperate with the Capital Area Immigrants Rights group who make monthly presentations to detainees on their rights and assist them through their legal process. We plan to partner with a similar local group to provide this service in Dwight. Legal visitation is available seven days a week, 365 days a year.
What type of recreation opportunities are available to detainees?
This is another area where ICA really separates itself. Detainees have access to state-of-the-art equipment for recreation and are even able to exercise during night hours, if they desire. They have a multimedia library at their disposal.
Detainees are afforded four hours of outdoor recreation every day, weather permitting. During one of those four hours, the detainees can choose to use an indoor gym for an hour. The gym is outfitted with treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, weight machines, and body station exercise machines. The indoor gym is also available to them to use overnight.
When can they see friends or family?
At ICA, detainees can have visitors 365 days a year. They have access to email and also to equipment for video conferencing. This is much more expansive and flexible than provided in other types of detainment and detention facilities.
Standard visitation is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with no limit on how long family and friends can stay unless there is a waiting line. After-hours visitation is also available from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. with 24-hours advance notice.
What is the average number of visitors per week to the facility?
ICA’s visitation program is unique in that they offer visitation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2017 ICA averaged 161 social visits per week consisting of 413 visitors. Last year (2018), the ICA Farmville, VA facility had more than 27,000 visitors logged.
Will the facility be a burden on local EMS/ambulance services?
Over the last three years emergency medical services have responded to ICA’s facility an average of 15 times a year, or 1.2 times a month.
How are meals for detainees provided?
ICA’s food service menu is reviewed and approved by a registered dietician. ICA’s food service operation will be fully licensed by the local authority and will be subject to unannounced health department inspections like any other restaurant. ICA has a five-week cycle menu, serves three meals a day, and averages a caloric intake of 2700-2800 calories per day.
How long does the average detainee stay at the facility?
Our current detainee length of stay is approximately 52 days although this will vary from location to location.
How do you ensure the safety of detainees?
Every area of the facility is operated under direct supervision. Detainees are never left alone and are always under the supervision of staff. This model of supervision coupled with frequent and random unannounced rounds by management and executive staff contribute greatly to providing a safe atmosphere for detainees. This has also contributed to the fact that ICA has never had a major disturbance in our facility.
What accommodations do you make for religious preferences and worship?
Facility chaplains are trained to handle a variety of religions. One of their main duties is to ensure accommodation of the major religions. Standard services will be provided for Christians, Catholics, Muslims, and Jewish detainees. Typically, there are also adherents of Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons, Buddhists, and Hindu religions. In those instances, we look for clergy resources in and around the geographic area to support them. At a minimum, the facility purchases religious texts for all religions and any required materials for a detainee to practice their faith.
Are detainees released into the local community?
When a detainee is released their families or friends are given the opportunity to come and pick them up from the facility first. If they cannot obtain transportation, the facility will transport the detainee to the nearest major transportation hub and release them there. Detainees would never be released from the facility with no transportation directly to the local community.
Are detainees released from the facility or at immigration court?
Court will most likely take place in the facility in person or via video teleconference. When a detainee is granted release or bond from the immigration court, they are held at the facility until all release paperwork is completed by ICE.
ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY IMPACT
Is this type of development right for our community?
ICA represents a significant economic impact. Not only does this create jobs, but it also increases our community’s tax base, which will ultimately help fund social services, police and fire, education, infrastructure and more.
ICA’s mission of providing humane, safe, secure and compassionate services to the individuals in our care makes us a good fit for any community.
What will be the economic impact of the facility?
The economic impact of the facility will greatly benefit the community. ICA commissioned an economic impact study by Mangum Economics to determine the benefits to Dwight and surrounding communities.
The study found that the total annual impact on the Village of Dwight and Livingston County from the on-going operation of ICA-Illinois would be approximately:
359 direct jobs
Average salary $73,500
493 total jobs
$37.6 million in labor income
$59.4 million in economic output
$3.2 million in overall tax revenue (of which approximately $658,500 would be comprised of local property taxes and business licensing fees).
The study also found that the total one-time impact on the Village of Dwight and Livingston County from construction of ICA-Illinois would be approximately:
$22.9 million in labor income
$75.9 million in economic output, and 4) $6.7 million in overall tax revenue (of which approximately $225,000 would be comprised of local permitting and other fees).
This facility and its ongoing operations would also provide a benefit to the state of Illinois. The total annual impact on the state of Illinois from the on-going operation of ICA-Illinois would be approximately:
$47.8 million in labor income
$85.8 million in economic output
$7.0 million in overall tax revenue (of which approximately $2.7 million would be comprised of state and local tax revenue).
Are the jobs going to be given to locals?
ICA looks first to hire local workers. At their current facility, they paid $3.88 million in salaries to employees in the city and county where the facility is located. This is in addition to $275,000 in employer-funded healthcare benefits that those same employees received.
ICA intends to conduct research on the applicable laws to determine if an agreement to give preferential treatment based on residency would be allowed. Currently, approximately 33% of ICA employees reside in the town/county in which the facility is located.
In a recent economic impact study by Mangum Economics, the ICA Dwight facility is expected to directly employ 359 individuals at an average salary of $73,500 a year.
Are the detainees a threat/danger to the community?
ICA takes critical steps to ensure the safety and security of the community. The detainees are being held for a variety of reasons, and each detainee undergoes a thorough risk classification assessment before being transferred to a detention facility.
Detainees would not be held at the facility for criminal offenses. They’re being held for a civil charge of being in the U.S. illegally.
What role will ICA play in funding infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate such a project? (like roads, water, sewer, etc.)
ICA wants to be a partner within the community. As conversations occur and the project progresses, they are working to ensure that the needs of both the community and the ICA project are met. ICA has shown a willingness to be flexible with the community to meet the needs of the facility.
ICA anticipates funding the installation of almost 2 miles of new sanitary sewer lines in Dwight as a result of this project.
What will the facility look like?
ICA’s intention is to provide buffers acceptable to the community to provide proper screening and a neat attractive appearance. ICA invests heavily in our facilities, ensuring they are modern and safe and comply with all local, state and federal safety and health requirements.
In 2020, there will be another presidential election. Are you confident that this facility will be used if President Trump loses reelection?
History tells us that there will always be a need for facilities that provide facilities that operate at the highest level of standards in a way that puts the health, safety, and well-being of those housed as the highest priority while they proceed through the immigration court system, regardless of administration. This type of housing has been an identified need at the federal level for at least 5 years, well before the current administration.
Our mission and one that policymakers on both side of the aisle have called for, is to provide an alternative to housing those who have a civil immigration violation in local jails. We believe that humane, compassionate housing that respects the dignity of these individuals while proceeding through a difficult process is something that will always be in demand.
Will community property values decrease due to the facility’s construction?
We are unaware of any statistics that would accurately indicate any direct effect of our operation on property values either positive or negative. We believe that the measurable economic contributions provided by our operation are extremely positive.
How does ICA engage in community involvement?
Our commitment is to be an active contributing member of the community. Our employees and their families will be living, working, and attending schools in the community and we want to be an active participant in the betterment of their lives and the lives of their friends and neighbors.
ICA also contributed to many local organizations. In 2017, ICA contributed to the Farmville Fire Department, the Jaycees, the Lions Club, among others.
Do ICA facilities comply with all regulations and standards?
Yes. ICA facilities are modern facilities that comply with all local, state and federal guidelines for safety and health. ICA meets or exceeds all ICE recommendations and is already compliant with proposed improvements and changes to detention center guidelines. The buildings will be fully sprinklered and will meet all applicable local, state, and federal fire codes.
The ICA Farmville facility has received 100% compliance rating on our last four audits and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections a distinction that less than 8 percent of corrections and detention facilities nationwide have received.
Are the guards armed at ICA facilities?
Only transportation officers and exterior perimeter patrol officers are armed.
All armed officers will be properly licensed to carry firearms. Officers in the facility are not permitted to carry firearms.
Are the majority of your employees at these facilities guards or professional staff?
Approximately 60 percent of ICA staff are detention officers. The remaining 40 percent represent our professional and administrative staff and medical team.
How many detainees are there to a room? What is the ratio of detainees to bathroom facilities?
ICA offers a variety of housing styles to house and care for those in our facilities. The majority of housing is open dormitories. The ratio of detainees to bathroom facilities is 1:12, which is a higher level than required by the national building code of 1:15.
Are reporters allowed to access the facility?
Reporters are often allowed to visit and tour the facilities. ICA does not control access for the media to the facility, other than to ensure that the privacy and dignity of the individuals in our care is respected, and must adhere to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement regulations and approval.
Reporters interested in a tour of the facility should contact the local ICE Field Office and or the ICE Office of Public Affairs.
Are outside agencies allowed to access the facility?
ICA is a frequent host of a wide variety of outside agencies that want to visit the facilities. As with media requests, the local ICE Field Office and Office of Public Affairs review and approve those requests.