The 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

San Francisco, CA ー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.

Letter to ICE re COVID 19

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:

  • Provision of hygiene supplies
  • Screening and testing of all individuals in custody
  • Off-site quarantining and treatment of affected individuals
  • Free phone calls to access family and community support
  • Suspension of all in-person check-ins (as has been adopted by numerous Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) offices across the country)
  • 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
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


Press contacts:

Rebekah Entrelago –
Media Advocacy Strategist, Freedom for Immigrants

Katie Kavanagh –
Lead Rapid Response Attorney, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ)