By Citlalli Florez & Jessica Weisman
MARYSVILLE, CA – The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) has terminated the Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) here with the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department – It was the last contract between ICE and a California county jail.
The agreement, which dates back to 1994, allowed the Sheriff’s Department to hold individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Yuba County Jail.
The Yuba Liberation Coalition, which has been fighting to end the contract since April 2021, said, “Directly impacted individuals, advocates and legal service providers have worked tirelessly for years to end the contract between ICE and the Yuba County Jail.”
Members of the Coalition include but are not limited to the ACLU of Northern California, California Collaborative or Immigrant Justice, Carlos Sauceda, Faithful Friends, and Pangea Legal Services, among others.
In response to the contract termination the organization responded, “Today we proudly celebrate the end of a lucrative agreement that caused immense harm to our communities. We call for the immediate release of the remaining detained community members – we have depopulated the facility in the past without transfers and believe this is both possible and just.”
Carlos Sauceda, a member of the Yuba Liberation Coalition and detained in the jail between 2017-2019, said, “a part of me can finally be at peace knowing that the place where I spent the worst two years of my life is finally closing.”
“Today is a day of victory for those of us who were detained at Yuba County Jail, for our families and for the advocates who have fought to make this possible,” he added.
The Yuba County Jail has been under a federal-court-ordered consent decree since 1979 because of poor jail conditions, including the lack of mental health care, staffing, exercise and recreation, and grievances given to incarcerated individuals, said the Coalition.
The consent decree was amended recently because of minimal improvements in health and recreation based conditions. Disability access was also improved.
However, recent reports by a court appointed monitor of the consent decree shows that the Yuba County Jail has not been in compliance with the consent decree.
The monitor, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, reported non-compliance with many provisions of the amended consent decree, especially with the inadequacy in medical care provided by the jail.
Yuba County Jail has a repeated record of human rights violations and failed facility inspection. And on Oct. 21, 2021 the California Congressional Delegation sent letters to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging the government to terminate the IGSA with the jail.
After the state banned the establishment of new contracts between county law enforcement and ICE in 2018, the government had also extended the IGA with Yuba indefinitely. The expiration date was set for the year 2099.
The contract awarded the county jail over $8.6 million dollars of taxpayer money per year for detaining individuals fighting their civil immigration cases.
Although the contract is being canceled, there are still four individuals detained at the county jail in ICE custody.
The Yuba Liberation Coalition said it will continue working in order for these individuals to retain legal representation and to be released into their communities instead of being transferred to another ICE facility.