[Louis is currently detained at the notorious ICA-Farmville detention center! Listen to and read his experiences in his own words.]
I have been in immigration detention in Farmville since March 5, 2020. When I arrived here I wasn’t sick. But when I arrived here, I contracted COVID-19 while in immigration detention. After COVID-19, I developed a lot of health problems. In my eyes, I have the start of glaucoma. And I lost all hearing in my right ear. My hearing in my left ear is getting systematically worse. This has been confirmed to me by medical specialists. The conditions where I am detained currently don’t allow me to follow a normal treatment. Here, when you are locked up, it’s very, very difficult to even see a specialist. When you make the request to see a specialist, it takes 4–6 months for them to take you, and sometimes even longer. I am the proof of this. When I last saw the eye doctor, they told me I had to come back. This was at the end of March. Since then I have not been able to go back and my glaucoma has only gotten worse.
The system is very, very difficult. Even in terms of communication — we don’t have tablets since June. We are not very numerous. The food — we don’t have any fruit. The recreation is very limited. There is no gym since a long time. All night where we are detained, there is no air conditioning. It is so hot, we don’t know what is going on. It’s as if they are working to weaken us psychologically, in order to make us sign off so we can be deported. We raise complaints all the time but they just put us on a list and tell us to wait.
Regarding the library, when you have a lawyer who says they want to look at your papers, they send you a document to sign. There are still a lot of difficulties. When you have to sign something for the lawyer and send it back so they can send it to the court, you realize that they send a document at 8 am and sometimes you don’t get it until 10 pm at night. This means that in terms of your case, your access to justice, you’re starting out already losing. Your time is very limited. Everything is put in place so that systematically we are discouraged by what is happening here and end up wanting to leave.
“…they are just there to make money off of us. Nothing is meant to actually support us or our freedom.”
As I mentioned, the ear doctor told me that I needed a device that would help me hear when people speak to me. They never got me this device. They never took me back to him. He told me I needed that device so he could continue to treat me. This was the same for the doctor following my glaucoma. She said I had to come back in 3 months, but this never happened. This means that I am constantly disoriented. The conditions under which they detain us here, I assure you, they are catastrophic. Everything is set up so that so that we are discouraged psychologically. And they are just there to make money off of us. Nothing is meant to actually support us or our freedom.
These centers need to be closed. Not just for me, but for those who come after me as well.
Free Them All VA is an abolitionist coalition centered around amplifying the organizing of those incarcerated in Virginia detention centers, jails, and prisons. Our demand to free them all has no asterisk. All means all.