I have been in I.C.E. detention for 32 months now, and let me tell you it does not get any easier. In the 32 months I have been in 3 detention facilities in California, and Yuba County Jail is by far the worst! When I think about it, it makes sense why it remains in business. 6.5 million dollars a year for the I.C.E. contract, yet we can’t get adequate hygiene, decent clothes, a clean housing area, shoes to wear, exercise equipment, basic medical attention, not even a pillow! The list is endless. Most of the staff are very unprofessional with a “this is my house” attitude or a “if you don’t like it, don’t come to jail” attitude. This very attitude and environment make most people lose their patience so they just sign for their deportation. So if you’re in the deportation business this sub-standard, inhumane cage is the perfect tool to make sure we don’t fight our deportation.
"The entire nation is told to keep “social distance,” but for us in detention that’s impossible."
Recently the entire world has been devastated by this deadly virus. Around the world is the same sentiment, unity and to care for our loved ones and our neighbors. Well, not if you’re in detention. It seems we are subhuman. Even in these dire times we are not worthy or deserving of being with our family. Now we just have one more thing to worry about, one more reason to just sign our deportation. The entire nation is told to keep “social distance,” but for us in detention that’s impossible. These cages, tanks, and housing aren’t big enough to keep 6ft apart. No matter what we do we are always in close quarters. Sure, they may have released some of the “high risk” detainees but not because it was the right thing to do or because they were compelled by human kindness. The only reason they released them is because they were forced to do it by the courts. Let’s be honest: they say that they’re detaining us for the safety of the community, that they are doing a good deed by keeping us off the streets. The truth is we are just a paycheck to Yuba. If you were to take away that hefty 6.5 million dollar check, they would kick us right out with no concern for the community. They would no longer be interested in their “good deed.” The truth is we are not a threat to the community, but if we were released we would be a threat to their pockets — a 6.5 million dollar threat.
"I would like the people to know we have another pandemic that is going unnoticed: detention."
This Covid-19 pandemic is horrifying, and I wouldn’t wish this virus on anyone. My heart goes out to the family members who may have lost a loved one to this illness. I give my utmost respect to those in the front line fighting this, from medical staff to volunteers providing food and services to all. I would like the people to know we have another pandemic that is going unnoticed: detention. So many families are ripped apart by this Deportation Machine, and just like Covid-19 I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Detention at Yuba is cruel and inhumane, it deserves attention and justice. Please take a stand against this discrimination, help us end this division of race. Let’s unite as one race, the human race.
This Detention Pandemic must not and cannot continue! Thank you all who have helped voice the voiceless in detention.
Your Fellow Human friend,
Editor's note: JM has been in immigration detention 33 months now, at three different facilities in California. He is now at the Yuba County Jail in Marysville, CA. His parents fled El Salvador in 1983 and he was born in Mexico after his family was stranded in Mexico. He fought deportation not only to El Salvador but also to Mexico, and won a Convention Against Torture ruling before an immigration judge for both countries. The government appealed and the decision was overturned in the BIA. He is now in the 9th Circuit. JM's mother is now a U.S. citizen and his ultimate goal is to get back to his family to be there for her and to take care of her.