Immigration and Customs Enforcement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Immigrant rights groups are concerned about a recent uptick in arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They said they want transparency in terms of COVID-19 safety procedures. 

 

At least four people, one in Fresno and three in Taft, have been arrested and detained by ICE in the last week, said Lisa Knox, legal director for the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice.

 

 

The Ninth Circuit Court heard oral arguments for the expansion of immigration detention centers in McFarland on Friday and immigrant rights advocates are hopeful the court will rule against the case.

 

Tania Bernal

 

Activists across California rallied Tuesday to bring attention to the widespread COVID-19 outbreaks and related deaths at 30 different prisons, jails and detention centers including the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield. 

 

For four minutes, activists across the state live streamed their demonstrations in unison to show solidarity. Six activists put a banner on Mesa Verde’s fence that said “Newsom’s Death Camp” according to organizer Tania Bernal with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.

 

At least 10 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield as of Monday, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Advocates say the people detained are not getting proper medical attention.

Christian Orellana, 22, contracted the virus in late July. On Saturday, he fainted at Mesa Verde. His lawyer, Ambar Tovar with the Defense Project in Bakersfield, said officials sent him to his bed even though she asked that a doctor examine him. 

A second person detained at the ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield tested positive for COVID-19. This comes as other detainees at Mesa Verde are participating in a labor strike. 

 

Christian Orellana, 22, suffers from a liver disease. His attorney Ambar Tovar with the Removal Defense Project in Bakersfield said Orellana had a fever of 101 degrees on Wednesday and tested positive for COVID the same day.

 

 

On Tuesday, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against McFarland and the company GEO barring them from populating a new detention center. The order comes after a lawsuit highlighted misconduct. 

In April, the McFarland City Council voted to turn two empty state prisons into for-profit detention centers run by the GEO group. The council’s decision violated state laws according to Grisel Ruiz, the supervising attorney for the lawsuit. 

 

 

 

People detained at a Bakersfield ICE Processing Facility began a hunger strike last Friday, after learning a nurse who worked there tested positive for COVID-19. Detainees are demanding ICE release them or provide a healthier environment.

 

Roughly 70 people across all four dorms at the Mesa Verde Detention Center are hunger striking, said Susan Beaty, a fellow with Centro Legal in Oakland. She says she’s worried not enough people are being tested for COVID-19.

 

Prisons and detention centers across California continue to be at risk for more COVID-19 outbreaks. An ACLU attorney representing detainees at the ICE processing facility in Bakersfield says a staff member there has tested positive for the virus.

In a case conference for a class action lawsuit against the Mesa Verde Detention Center, ICE’s attorney said a medical provider at the facility had tested positive for the coronavirus. That’s according to Angelica Salceda, an ACLU lawyer in the meeting. She said the woman went to get tested on her own accord. 

Lilian Marquez

Karla Lopez, 32, currently lives in Stockton with her friend Lilian Marquez. The two met at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield nine months ago and have been friends since then. But Lopez’ journey to get here started way back in November of 2018. 

That’s when a caravan of thousands of migrants made national news walking from Central America to the United States. Lopez decided to join the second wave of people heading to this country.

Roxana Espinoza Trigueros

 

 

Last June, Roxana Espinoza Trigueros and her wife Carolina Espinoza Trigueros applied for asylum in the United States after living in Mexico for three years. The women said they were discriminated against for being a couple.   

Once they were notified that their application was being considered, they went to an office in San Isidro near the border. There, they spent 11 nights in a room they said was referred to as the “llelerar” or the freezer.

Last week, over 200 people inside a Bakersfield Detention Center participated in a hunger strike, according to advocates. Now ICE is threatening to suspend detainee privileges and it’s had a chilling effect on some of the strikers. 

Pablo Ramirez has been detained in Mesa Verde for six months. He joined the strike last week to help show a united front against the conditions inside the detention center. 

California Committee for Immigrant Liberation

 

 

Over one hundred people detained at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield are on an indefinite hunger strike, according to Susan Beaty, a fellow with Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland. Those detained are demanding access to masks, soap and other protective items.  

 

The strike started at a women’s dorm on Thursday night, Beaty said. The next day, a men’s dorm and the other women’s dorm, joined the strike.

 

A federal Judge has ordered the release of four more people considered high risk candidates for COVID-19 at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility. The four people are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against ICE that demands the release of 12 high-risk candidates detained at the Mesa Verde ICE Detention Center and the Yuba County Jail.

As state and local officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, lawyers across California are joining forces to get their at-risk clients out of ICE detention centers, including the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Fifteen-year-old Sandra Hernandez can’t get this one Tuesday morning out of her head.

 

“All I was thinking at that time was ‘I wanted my dad back,’” she said. “I wanted him to get in the car and for us to go to school like any other day.”

 

Her father, Hugo Hernandez, was pulled over by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in central-east Fresno on Nov. 5. It was about 7:30 a.m. and he was taking Sandra and her 16-year-old brother Eduardo to school. Eduardo said it was just like any other day.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We talk with the Fresno Police Department about the mass shooting last Sunday that left four dead and six wounded at a party in Southeast Fresno. We also visit a Hmong mini-mall and bring you a postcard of remembrances from people who knew the victims.

And we talk to kids about a father who was apprehended by Immigrant and Customs Enforcement while driving his two teenagers to school. He was then sent to a detention facility.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Dozens of people packed the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to hear Sheriff Margaret Mims present data on 2018 Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity in the county jail. Although Mims was clear her office didn’t hand anyone over to ICE, most community members at the forum were critical of her support for the agency and the timing of the event. 

 

Edith Mata

A Bakersfield College student and farmworker who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after publicly reading a poem critical of the agency was released Monday afternoon after two NFL players and immigration advocacy organizations posted his bail.

 

Valerie Gorospe

On a recent Wednesday at about noon, Aldo’s Mexican Restaurant in Delano was empty. There wasn’t any chatter or the sounds of sizzling carne asada on the stove, just the song Mejor Recuerda by Julión Álvarez playing in the background.  

 

“During the lunch hour, we used to always be busy, running back and forth, back and forth,” said waitress Araceli Mendez in Spanish. “That’s why you now can see the difference. It’s been empty for almost a month.”

 

Edith Mata

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down a First Amendment lawsuit this week that argued Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained a 22-year-old Bakersfield activist and farmworker as a way to retaliate against him. 

 

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