And Then There Were Two: Legal Counsel for Last Two Immigrants Held by ICE in Yuba County Jail Tell Court Migrants’ Detention Unlawful


The Vanguard Staff

SAN FRANCISCO/MARYSVILLE, CA — The Yuba County Jail in Marysville – a “horrible” facility and once jammed with hundreds of ICE detainees – is down to its last two remaining immigrants, and their supporters and legal counsel want Ricardo Vasquez Cruz and Luis Castro Ramos out now.

The site of numerous pickets, rallies and protests since 2020, the Yuba County Jail, according to a statement this week by the San Francisco Public Defender Office, has a “documented history of horrific conditions of custody, even before the pandemic, which has prompted immigrants to engage in a series of hunger strikes.”

The jail was even subject to a judge’s consent decree to improve conditions. And most recently, federal inspections discovered, said the SF Public Defender, 19 violations of detention standards in 2020 and 21 violations in 2021 in areas including health and safety, security, and healthcare.

This week lawyers for the last two ICE detainees – a lawsuit led to hundreds of releases from ICE’s Northern California detention centers due to the dangerous pandemic conditions this past year – filed writs of habeas corpus in California’s Northern District Court, alleging that “their continued detention is unlawful.”

Cruz, who is represented by San Francisco Deputy Public Defenders Jennifer Friedman and Genna Beier, has been detained by ICE for three and a half years, and Ramos has been held for a year and a half and has pro bono representation from attorney Scott Mossman.

“Under new enforcement priorities issued by the Biden Administration, both men are eligible for release, as neither poses a danger to the community nor is a flight risk,” said the SFDPD office, arguing “both men should be released to their communities to continue fighting their cases.”

The PD said “Cruz and Ramos have endured detention at Yuba throughout the pandemic, in a jail notorious for its poor conditions. A district court issued a series of injunctions to force ICE to improve the safety conditions, but the two men have remained — enduring two COVID outbreaks.

“The #FreeTheYuba11 Coalition, an alliance of advocates supporting the termination of the contract between ICE and Yuba County, has also provided support for Mr. Vasquez Cruz and Mr. Castro Ramos. The two remain concerned about their health, particularly in light of medical conditions that render them more vulnerable to serious medical complications if infected with the coronavirus.”

San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju said, “Ricardo and Luis have suffered enough. Their unconscionably prolonged detention is unreasonable and violates basic due process. We hope ICE releases them at once so they can return to their families and communities where they belong.”

Ramos’s attorney, Scott Mossman, added, “The Supreme Court has long held that the government needs good reasons and clear and convincing evidence to take someone out of the community and lock them up for years in civil detention.  ICE and the immigration courts deny that those rules apply to noncitizens, no matter how deep their ties to this country. So, we are filing these habeas petitions to obtain the release of Mr. Vasquez Cruz and Mr. Castro Ramos. ICE has not and cannot justify their continued detention.”

Cruz, who has lived in the U.S. for about 20 years with legal immigration status under the Temporary Protective Status program, is seeking release to the home he shares with his mother and son in California. Cruz would continue attending alcohol rehabilitation programs and return to his long-time unionized job as a sound and communications technician.

Ramos has lived in the U.S. since he was seven. His family started the immigration process for him in 1977, but — unlike his seven brothers and sisters — he never obtained legal status. Through the years, Ramos has lived with and supported his mother, working jobs in construction and commercial salmon.

“There is absolutely no reason why Ricardo and Luis should still be detained. Ricardo and Luis are surviving horrible conditions and human rights violations at the Yuba County Jail which have worsened throughout the pandemic. They both have robust post-release plans that support their continued efforts towards rehabilitation. The FreeTheYuba11 Campaign Coalition and members of the community are ready to receive them,” said The FreeTheYuba11 Campaign in a statement,


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