Mesa Verde

Almost half the people tested for COVID-19 last Wednesday at Mesa Verde had positive results. 

Thirty two out of 70 people tested positive. Asif Qazi, who’s been detained at Mesa Verde since February, says he’s not surprised.

“It’s not possible to social distance in a place where you have to use the same sinks, toilets and showers as other people,” Qazi said. “When you line up it’s not like your lining up six feet apart. It’s shoulder to shoulder.”  

This week on Valley Edition: We learn more about an organization in Fresno that’s buying crops from small farmers to help offset the huge losses growers are experiencing due to COVID-19.

Plus, a man currently incarcerated at Avenal State Prison describes the toll that COVID-19 has taken on life behind bars, including months without seeing loved ones. 

 

And documentary filmmakers tell us what it’s like inside the Mesa Verde detention center in Bakersfield.

 

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.

Monica Velez

After months of speculation as to whether The Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield would shutter, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement say it will stay open for at least another year.

 

Monica Velez

Tony Amarante’s home in Bakersfield is about an 8-minute drive to the Mesa Verde Detention Facility. He has volunteered there on occasion to visit detainees. But recently he’s been housing immigrants who’ve been released from the facility.

 

“This is my kid's old room,” Amarante says. “I’ve had three asylum seekers stay here. I’m happy to offer them some shelter, a bathroom and get them on the bus or airplane or wherever we got to go.”

 

Monica Velez

Cars whiz by on Golden State Avenue near downtown Bakersfield as people shuffle in and out of a tan-colored building. It's surrounded by a high wall with fencing and barbed wire.

 

Three tall flagpoles loom above the perfectly cut grass -- there’s the U.S flag, the state flag, and one with the blue and green GEO Group logo. GEO is a private company that contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate this building, the Mesa Verde Detention Facility.