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Letters From Immigration Detention During COVID-19

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

Immigrants detained in Yuba County Jail and Mesa Verde Detention Facility shared their thoughts, fears and pleas while they hope to be released before the coronavirus strikes these detention centers.

A. Sharma

Hi, my name is A. Sharma and I am writing this letter today cause I am so scared of the coronavirus. I watch the news everyday and see people dying of this virus. I lost my father 2 years ago, he had lung cancer. My mother really needs me. I am really scared cause people with underlying medical conditions can die with this virus and I have underlying medical conditions. I am diabetic, also I have high blood pressure with a weak immune system. If I get coronavirus I can die with my medical problems. I just wanna be with my family at these hard times. I am around 50 people at the time, and it is easy to catch a virus. The place is not clean, sewer coming out of the sinks. I am really vulnerable to catch this virus so I really need to be in a clean, and safe place. Please help me, I don’t want to die. I have to take care of my family, I got my mom, brother and 4 year old son. I have lived in California for 34 years, I just wanna be safe. They don’t give us soap and conditions are bad here. If 1 person gets the coronavirus, everyone will get it in the county jail. Thank you so much for hearing me out, I wish everyone that has a medical condition can be helped out.

Thank you,

A. Sharma


My name is Francisco. I have been in detention for one month. The second week that I was here I got sick. I developed a fever, I had a headache, chills, and my teeth were chattering. It took two weeks before I could see the doctor who just gave me ibuprofen. At no point did they test me for coronavirus. Nothing has really changed here because of COVID-19 except that they posted some signs on the walls. We do not have masks. We are many people in a small space, and more people keep arriving. There are 102 people in my dorm, 30 more than when I arrived. When there are so many people around, I do not feel comfortable. There are several people in my dorm who are in their seventies, and people who have medical conditions. I believe there are other people in my dorm that also have fevers. I am afraid someone will die here.

Outside of detention, I have three children, all of whom were born in the United States. I also have a wife who has diabetes. I am so scared for her because I have heard that coronavirus is dangerous to people with diabetes. I worry that she will die when I am in detention and I will never get to see her again. And she is so worried about me, here with so many other people. I would like to say to people outside that we are not criminals. Some people come from prison, but they have already served their time. The government is not doing enough to keep us safe. I only ask for the opportunity to leave here, even with an ankle bracelet, so that I can reunite with my family.

D. Pod

We have a dilemma at Yuba County Jail regarding our safety considering the coronavirus for ICE detainees as well as county inmates. Yuba County Sheriff have cleared our F-pod for quarantine purpose which is on the same floor right next to D pod where we are housed at. Because we are on the same floor we have to use the same hair clippers, electric clipper and nail clippers. Another fact is that the food cart goes to F pod first which is quarantined and then continues to E, then D pod. With these facts in our mind our health is in jeopardy. Not to mention there are inmates/detainees that have Asthma, Diabetes, heart problems, and other respiratory issues that are at risk. We have tried talking to staff, deputies, and sergeants on resolving this issue, but nothing has been done.

We all fear for our health, safety and life due to the coronavirus outbreak. We here in D pod feel that there should be no cross contamination between F pod, the quarantine pod, and other pods. With that being said we highly appreciate it if you can look into this matter to resolve this problem in a time of desperate need.

Sincerely from all detainees/inmates. We all sign this as a formal complaint. 21 detainees and inmates in D pod


I am J. I have been detained by ICE for more than two years. Living in detention was never easy, but it has never been as scary as it is now that there is a global Coronavirus pandemic. Each week, people recently detained by ICE are housed in the same room with those of us who have been here since before the pandemic. We are very worried because they do not separate the new people in quarantine before mixing them with everyone else in my housing unit that currently holds approximately 42 people. We are also worried that the beds that we have are very close together and there is no more than a meter between beds, and some are even closer than that. We know we are so close together that it prevents us from protecting ourselves from the illness. Also, the jail officers enter and leave every day and almost never use masks. Sometimes they bring masks, but often they are not wearing them, and other times they do not even bring them. They have never offered masks to detained people and they are not available for purchase. Here, we all pass the days and nights knowing that we are at risk of getting Coronavirus. We see the news each day about the further spread of the virus and how many people are seriously impacted by it. I have no power to protect myself from Coronavirus here in detention, where I am packed into one room with dozens of other detained people. I live for my children and grandchildren, and I am terrified that this virus puts my life at risk.


My name is Jose. I have been detained for 15 months. I am physically healthy, but I have mental health problems. I need help. I sometimes forget things and I need support. I have anxiety. The thing that has been most difficult for me while being detained for so long is that I cannot send money to my child for food. I worry about my child a lot. I am afraid that if I stay detained and am infected with COVID-19, I will get sick and die and my child will not have a father. I am also worried I will never see my family again. I do not think they are doing everything they can to keep us safe here. I am part of a group that cleans the showers every day. We do not have Clorox to clean. We are given disinfectant, but I do not think it is enough. There are only two groups that clean other parts of the jail every day. There is a group that disinfects the phones. That only happens twice a day. The same with the microwaves, they are only cleaned twice a day. We are given soap to shower, but sometimes it takes two days to get soap.


“I feel so bad. I’m afraid of getting sick. We are locked in here together, crammed in, just packed in. Where I am now, there are 100 people in one big room. We try to take care of each other, and we try to clean, but there is little we can do. Please help us get out here.”

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