by Jose Mejia-Rosas
My name is Jose Mejia-Rosas and this is my experience, my story, my unfortunate reality with ICE in Yuba County Jail.
I'm sure a lot of people are aware of the poor and corrupt conditions of Yuba County Jail. I'm gonna go into further detail in hopes that it may catch the attention of some one or some people that can change this inhumane facility.
I was transferred here from Mesa Verde Detention in Bakersfield, which is a much better facility. It is clean and the staff there are very polite and professional. Going from that to this is a real eye opener. 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.
"There is no clean space to eat or coexist."
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.
It's hard to believe we are being subjected to these conditions for a civil matter. Most of us in here committed mistakes and have served our time for them. Now it seems we are serving more time.
Here in Yuba we are housed with County inmates. We get same treatment as people here fighting criminal cases, people detoxing, and most of the time inmates and come, get out, then come right back days or weeks later. They don't care about the ones in here who need to be written up [as] FREE or Incident FREE. We are in danger every day that we are housed in here with County inmates. Most of the "locals" or County Jail inmates don't want us in the tank with them. We are constantly subjected to derogatory comments, abusive behavior towards us, and discrimination. We are housed with inmates who have swastikas tattooed on them, a clear and obvious sign of their hatred toward minorities. Would you feel safe? Would you want your kids or loved ones living in such conditions? So why are we being forced to live this way?
Yuba County Jail gets a significant amount of money from ICE contracts, yet the ICE detainees can't even get proper clothes or hygiene. When I was in prison as a convicted felon, I got more adequate treatment than we do as mere detainees. Why? It makes no sense.
Laundry service here is the worst from any where I have been. I don't know where they spend the money, and I would dare someone to look into it. Just recently they brought new jumpsuits for County inmates and gave ICE the old county orange outfits. They get mad at us for having to get more new clothes! Clothes aren't meant to last forever.
"With their funding plus ICE contract, we should not be living in such poor conditions."
Not too long ago we went 2 weeks without changing our towels. Their excuse was "we don't have any." We only get 2 sets of clothes, the same clothes we sleep in, exercise in, go to visit, and live in. We are lucky if we get clothes changed out 2X a week. When they do the exchange they come at odd hours, 3:00 a.m., midnight, or 5:00 a.m., knowing people are sleeping. It's all part of their corrupt tactics. We get no recreational clothing or shoes for that matter. We are forced to wear "flip flops" to yard. All other facilities I've been to we get a state issued flip flops and rec shoes. Yuba County houses less than 500 people. With their funding plus ICE contract, we should not be living in such poor conditions. Right?
We try to bring these issues to their attention and they reply, "Just grievance it." OK, so we do. Then we wait, and wait, and wait. No response to 3 out of 4 grievances. We get no copy of our grievance so that we may further prove it.
Corruption. We have no voice, no rights.
How much longer will Yuba County Jail get away with these forms of injustice? Why hasn't anyone already stepped in to fix Yuba County Jail's broken system? At this day and age you would think we would be more evolved and compassionate toward human life. More aware of basic human needs. Nope! Not at Yuba County Jail and definitely not if you're an ICE detainee at Yuba County Jail. Remember, we are not human, we are sub human. Illegal aliens with no rights to anything. Not even basic medical attention.
I have faith that soon someone will come along and drain this swamp that is called Yuba County. Until then I must remain strong and watchful so that I may help other detainees and report all the corruption with hope of change and progress.
Jose Mejia Rosas has been in immigration custody for almost two years now. He applied to stay in the U.S. under the Convention Against Torture, which was granted by an immigration judge. However, the decision was appealed by the government and the decision was overturned by the BIA. He is now in the Ninth Circuit. He is determined to stay in custody for as long as it takes to be reunited with his supportive and loving family, due to his very real and credible fear of harm should he return to El Salvador.