by JM

In August it will be my one year mark here in Yuba County ICE.

When I arrived I had the unfortunate luck to be housed in the old part of the jail, or the "dungeon" as they call it. I couldn't believe the smell or the sight of the jail. I still can't believe that the "Old Side" of the jail hasn't been condemned or updated. It's in serious need of either renovations or demolition.

Everything is falling apart. Instead of repairing or replacing the damage they put a sloppy "Band-Aid" on it and call it good. Not to mention how long it actually takes them to get to the problem.

I remember in November of 2019 the floor drain in the tank I was in began to spew raw sewage all over the floor. The smell was just awful. The worst.

So we then pushed the emergency button to let the control officer know what was going on. His response was, "Let your floor officer know." Meanwhile, the drain continued to push out used toilet paper, sewage, and brown water.  When our floor officer arrived he smelled it and saw the mess and told us to throw our blankets on the floor to soak it up. So we did. He then called it in for them to call a plumber. The smell was so bad the floor officer sent us to the roof, which is used as our "recreation yard." The officer asked 3 of us to stay behind to clean up the mess. We asked him for some type of protective gear. He just gave us some rubber gloves and said "You'll be alright."

The whole thing was bad. We must have used like 16 large blankets to soak it all up. Plumbers finally arrived and fixed the floor drain. We continued to clean up. We begged them for bleach and they got some after we begged for awhile.

We got done cleaning but that smell lingered for a few days. We got blankets to replace the ones we used to clean up. We asked the officer what he did with the blankets we used to soak it up. He responded, "We're gonna wash them." We laughed thinking he was joking around. He asked us, "What's so funny? Those blankets were still in good shape." He told us they would get washed and get handed out again. I couldn't believe what he was saying.

Now that I think about it, it makes sense. I always wondered why our laundry smells bad when we get "clean" clothes on clothing exchange days.

Old plumbing is just one of many things the "Old Side" needs to replace. Soon these types of problems are going to cause a real danger. The health and safety of human life is far more important than saving a few dollars. But hey, what do I know? It's all politics.

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.