Release Immigrants Detained at Yuba County Jail Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Gov. Gavin Newson; Sen. Kamala Harris; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; Wendell Anderson, Yuba County Sheriff-Coroner-Public Administrator; Yuba County Board of Supervisors; Yuba County Grand Jury; David Jennings, San Francisco ICE Field Office Director

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The Sacramento Immigration Coalition and the Campaign for Immigrant Detention Reform (CIDR) are calling on our community to urge Yuba County and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to immediately release immigrants detained at Yuba County Jail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The threat of a COVID-19 outbreak at the jail is imminent and the impact of such an outbreak would be dire.

READ: “Prisons Are Known Incubators and Amplifiers of Disease,” Making It a High Risk Area for the COVID-19 Pandemic

READ: Guest Commentary: We Need Bold Action Now to Protect Those Detained at Yuba County Jail – and Nationwide – from Coronavirus

Conditions at Yuba County Jail, the region’s last remaining immigrant detention center, are notoriously bad. The jail has been under court order to improve conditions at the site for 40 years.

Freedom for Immigrants has highlighted stories from immigrants held there, including:

“I could not believe how dirty Yuba County is. I am housed in the ‘old’ part of the jail, which has bars for barriers or walls. There is dust and mold everywhere. The cleaning supplies, which consist of broom, mop, toilet brush, spray bottles, is not enough to even scratch the surface of filth in here. Everything is done inside the tanks. The toilets, shower, sink and bunks are under 5 feet from where we eat. Hair cuts are also done in the same space. There is no clean space to eat or coexist.”

Our recommendations are: The jail should 1) release all people in ICE custody eligible for Alternatives to Detention; 2) immediately release anyone older than 60, immune compromised, pregnant or who has underlying conditions; 3) immediately provide soap, CDC-recommended hand sanitizer, medical care, comprehensive sanitation and cleaning of facilities, and other safety measures as recommended by the CDC for those who remain incarcerated; 4) eliminate medical copays; 5) grant humanitarian parole requests; and 6) lift all fees for calls to family members.

Following these recommendations would drastically reduce the numbers of people held at the jail, thereby reducing the risks of a potentially devastating coronavirus outbreak.

Viruses know no bounds nor jail cells; if action isn’t taken now to protect those at Yuba County Jail, any outbreak will affect not just those detained there, but the wider community.

APRIL 5, 2020, PETITION ADDENDUM:

During the 1930s, Germany opened its first Nazi concentration camp.

By the time Nazi concentration camps were shut down, at least 17 million people were killed or died of disease.

Anne Frank herself is said to have died, not in the abominable gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but of typhus due to crowded and dirty conditions.

On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Order 9066, authorizing the displacement and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast.

Nearly 2,000 Japanese Americans died in the U.S. concentration camps due to disease and lack of medical care.

Today, more than 50,000 immigrants are held in U.S. detention centers, and several of these centers already have reported that detained immigrants have tested positive for COVID-19.

The top complaint heard from Freedom For Immigrants, which runs a visitation network to meet with detained immigrants? Medical neglect/abuse.


Preventing the spread of infectious diseases in detention centers isn’t just a public health concern, it’s also a human rights imperative. Anyone being detained retains their human rights during incarceration, including the right to life; right to health and protection from exposure to infectious diseases; freedom from torture and ill treatment; and freedom from discrimination. These rights impose a legal duty of care on states and local governments to protect the lives, health and well-being of persons deprived of their liberty. Today, we expand the number of California government officials that will be sent this petition. Today, we ask Governor Newsom to release all medically fragile adults and those over age 60 and all inmates scheduled to be paroled through next year, using his executive powers.

In addition to those already designated to receive this petition, the following officials have been added as of today:

· Governor Newsom
· Senator Harris

· Senator Feinstein

The time to stand up and act is now. We cannot be silent and allow this shameful history to be repeated.

The Sacramento Immigration Coalition is a network of individual organizations that meet to share ideas and resources and increase our presence and power to achieve the common goal of making lives better for undocumented people. Contact: sacimmigrationcoalition@gmail.com

The Campaign for Immigrant Detention Reform (CIDR) is fighting against inhumane detention of immigrants in Northern California. CIDR is composed of a number of civil- and immigrants’-rights groups primarily in the Northern California region. Contact: cidr.norcal@gmail.com
Petition by

To: Gov. Gavin Newson; Sen. Kamala Harris; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; Wendell Anderson, Yuba County Sheriff-Coroner-Public Administrator; Yuba County Board of Supervisors; Yuba County Grand Jury; David Jennings, San Francisco ICE Field Office Director
From: [Your Name]

The threat of a COVID-19 outbreak at Yuba County Jail is imminent and the impact of such an outbreak would be dire.

Viruses know no bounds nor jail cells; if action isn’t taken now to protect those at Yuba County Jail, any outbreak will affect not just those detained there, but the wider community.

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens urging you to act to protect some of our most-vulnerable community members - and our community at large - from coronavirus.

We ask that you:
1) Release all people in ICE custody eligible for Alternatives to Detention at Yuba County Jail​;
2) Immediately release anyone older than 60, immunocompromised, pregnant or who has underlying conditions;
3) immediately provide soap, CDC-recommended hand sanitizer, medical care, comprehensive sanitation and cleaning of facilities, and other safety measures as recommended by the CDC for those who remain incarcerated;
4) Eliminate medical copays;
5) Grant humanitarian parole requests;
6) Lift all fees for calls to family members.

Now is the time for bold and decisive action to protect our community as a whole.