Mesa Verde Detention Facility

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.

 

 

 

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. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released 18 women this week detained at the Mesa Verde Detention Center in Bakersfield. But neither the women nor their attorneys were given advance notice to make accommodations. 

Lilian Marquez, 45, was detained at Mesa Verde for 11 months. But on Wednesday, she and another woman were released without explanation. 

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.

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.

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.

 

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. 

 

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.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: More than half of California’s olive groves are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. But Tulare County growers say that with a major olive cannery set to buy more Spanish olives, the future for olive production looks grim.   

Plus, it’s Women’s History Month. We sat down with three young, dynamic leaders to ask about the women who inspire them.

And later, we learn more about President Trump’s plans to rewrite rules that govern water allocations and infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.  

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.”

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: There’s no summer school for kids in Bakersfield this year. We ask the superintendent why not. Plus, a new report details the poor living conditions of detention centers in California, but some immigration attorneys say keeping Mesa Verde open in Bakersfield is a good thing.

And later, one of the longest running fringe festivals is happening right now in Fresno. We talk to the founder of Rogue Fest, and hear from some of the performers.

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.