Person in ICE custody at Yuba County Jail

·3 min read

Jan. 4—After the last individual detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at Yuba County Jail was released in October, the Yuba County Sheriff's Office confirmed that it has another person taken in custody by the federal agency.

"I can confirm we have one person currently housed for ICE," said Yuba County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Leslie Williams in an email to the Appeal on Monday.

In October, Ricardo Vasquez Cruz, the last individual in ICE custody at Yuba County Jail, was released after spending three years behind bars. At the time, Cruz was detained because ICE believed Cruz to be a deportable noncitizen, Laura Duarte Bateman, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ) communications manager, previously told the Appeal.

According to CCIJ, an Intergovernmental Service Agreement between ICE and Yuba County Jail was the last contract with a public facility in California.

As part of the agreement, Yuba County Jail receives $158.13 per day for 150 detainees housed and an additional $13.79 per day for every detainee over 150 as part of the agreement, Williams previously told the Appeal.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Yuba County Jail had 175 ICE detainees. By April 2021, 11 people remained detained. Four of the 11 were released by ICE unexpectedly, two were released on bond, one was released due to negotiations with ICE and four were deported, Bateman told the Appeal in October.

In a release sent last week, CCIJ said, "Yuba County Jail is known for its inhumane conditions, retaliation by guards, medical neglect and tragic deaths."

The most recent person taken by ICE to be housed at Yuba County Jail was not named Monday and representatives for ICE did not respond to requests as of press time.

Before Cruz was released on Oct. 27, 2021, 24 members of Congress signed a letter sent to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling on the federal agency to close two private detention facilities as well as terminate its agreement with Yuba County Jail.

According to Appeal archives, the letter to DHS cited Yuba County Jail's consistently unsanitary conditions and low population. It mentioned that Yuba County Jail has been subject to a federal consent decree since 1979. The decree, which was amended in 2018, required the county to improve conditions at the jail including providing timely medical care, changing the physical structure of the jail, and providing mental health care and suicide risk assessments for certain detainees.

An April inspection from the ICE Office of Detention Oversight found 31 deficiencies and found that Yuba County Jail was in compliance with only half of the 18 ICE detention standards, according to the letter.

Williams, in October, said the jail had two successful ICE inspections of the facility and programs in recent months.

"It is unconscionable that ICE would start to repopulate Yuba during the holiday season, a time when families are meant to be together," said the FreeTheYuba 11 Coalition in the release from CCIJ. "This situation could have been completely prevented if DHS Secretary (Alejandro) Mayorkas had terminated the contract between the Yuba County Sheriff's Department and ICE when the facility held 0 individuals in its custody, as 25 Members of Congress urged him to do over two months ago. Meanwhile, the sheriff's department pocketed over $1.4 million from ICE for two months for an empty facility. Secretary Mayorkas's failure to swiftly act will result in more community members experiencing severe harm or even death from COVID-19 and the inhumane conditions at the jail."