We Demand the Release of People in ICE Detention to Ensure Population Stays Safe During COVID Spread

Updated: Mar 2


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE San Francisco, California


Press Contacts: Rebekah Entrelago Media Advocacy Strategist, Freedom for Immigrants rentralgo@freedomforimmigrants.org Katie Kavanagh Lead Rapid Response Attorney, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ) kkavanagh@sfbar.org

Coalition of Legal Service Providers and Community Organizations Demand the Release of People Held in ICE Detention Centers in Norcal and Central Valley to Ensure Population Stays Safe During Spread of COVID-19


Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which threatens to spread rapidly through ICE detention facilities, a coalition of legal service providers and community organizations in California has sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and the administrators of local ICE detention facilities demanding that they release all individuals held at the Mesa Verde Detention Facility (MVDF) in Bakersfield and the Yuba County Jail in Marysville, starting with those who are at highest risk of serious illness if infected by COVID-19.

ICE cannot guarantee the health and safety of detained people during the COVID-19 outbreak. In the past, mumps, scabies, and other highly contagious diseases have spread amongst the detained immigrant population in Northern California and the Central Valley because facilities are overcrowded and do not meet basic hygiene or medical needs. As recently as yesterday, ICE detainees in Yuba County Jail reported that they had not been provided with free hygiene supplies, such as soap or antiseptic wipes. Many ICE detainees at Yuba and all detainees at MVDF sleep in massive dormitories with dozens of others and are required to have meals mere inches from their fellow detainees. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes were not permitted in the facility when advocates visited last week.

Until all individuals are released, the coalition demands that ICE and the facilities take the following urgent measures:

  1. Provision of hygiene supplies

  2. Screening and testing of all individuals in custody

  3. Off-site quarantining and treatment of affected individuals

  4. Free phone calls to access family and community support

  5. Suspension of all in-person check-ins (as has been adopted by numerous Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) offices across the country)

  6. Suspension of all enforcement operations and removals across Northern California and the Central Valley

The coalition requested that ICE to respond to the letter within 48 hours, and has requested a prompt, remote meeting between advocates and David Jennings, the San Francisco ICE Field Office Director.

Organizations that have signed the letter to ICE attached to this press release include legal service providers and community organizations committed to protecting and advancing the rights of low-income, immigrant communities through legal representation, education and advocacy. The coalition includes:

  1. ACLU of Northern California

  2. African Advocacy Network

  3. Alameda County Public Defender

  4. Alianza Sacramento

  5. Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)

  6. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

  7. Bay Area Asylum Support Coalition (BAASC)

  8. California Coalition for Women Prisoners

  9. California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ)

  10. California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA)

  11. Campaign for Immigrant Detention Reform

  12. CARECEN SF

  13. Catholic Charities East Bay

  14. Catholic Charities San Francisco

  15. Center on Race Poverty & the Environment

  16. Centro Legal de la Raza

  17. Community Democracy Project

  18. Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA)

  19. Community United Against Violence

  20. Detention Watch Network

  21. Dolores Huerta Foundation

  22. Dolores Street Community Services

  23. Education and Leadership Foundation

  24. Faith in the Valley

  25. Freedom for Immigrants

  26. Greenfield Walking Group

  27. Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network

  28. Human Impact Partners (HIP)

  29. Immigrant Legal Resource Center

  30. Immigration Defense Advocates

  31. Indivisible CA-7

  32. Indivisible Sacramento

  33. Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice

  34. Innovation Law Lab

  35. Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

  36. Jakara Movement

  37. Japanese Americans for Justice

  38. La Raza Centro Legal

  39. Latinos Unidos Por Educación

  40. Law Office of Aubra Fletcher

  41. Law Office of Cynthia Tyler

  42. Law Office of Helen Lawrence

  43. Law Office of Irma Perez

  44. Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

  45. Legal Aid at Work

  46. Legal Services for Children

  47. Marin County Office of the Public Defender

  48. Maryann Hrichak

  49. McGeorge Law School

  50. Nikkei Resisters

  51. NorCal Resist

  52. Oasis Legal Services

  53. Office of the San Francisco Public Defender

  54. Opening Doors, Inc

  55. Pangea Legal Services

  56. Resilience Orange County

  57. San Francisco Bay Area Day of Remembrance Committee

  58. San Francisco Rapid Response Network

  59. San Joaquin College of Law – New American Legal Clinic

  60. San Jose Nikkei Resisters

  61. Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN)

  62. Tsuru for Solidarity

  63. UFW Foundation

  64. Visión y Compromiso

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