ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Justice Department lawyers are asking a federal judge to lift a ban on transferring inmates to an immigration detention center in Virginia that suffered a massive coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria issued an injunction last month barring transfers into the Farmville Detention Center. She blamed a coronavirus outbreak there on a “bureaucratic circus” that allowed the transfer of a large group of detainees from Florida and Arizona without any quarantine, despite jail policies against such transfers.

Ultimately 90% of the nearly 300 inmates there tested positive for the coronavirus, and a 72-year-old detainee died.

In a court filing this week, government lawyers said the inmate population has now dropped to 200, and the inability to transfer inmates in is making it difficult to enforce immigration laws in the region.

The motion asks the judge to lift the ban on transfers to Farmville, and includes a promise that any transfers will be quarantined elsewhere for 14 days before arriving.

A hearing on the request is scheduled for next month.


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