‘They Didn’t Listen to Us’: ICE Detainee Who Waged Hunger Strikes for COVID-19 Protections Gets Virus

Our 20-year-old client, Juan Jose Erazo Romero, who fled violence in El Salvador as a teenager and is being held by ICE at the Yuba County Jail Immigration Detention facility, has gone on multiple hunger strikes to protest the unsafe conditions. Despite federal court orders for regular cleaning of the facility, ICE has consistently failed to follow those basic requirements. Now, Juan Jose along with 50% of those detained there, have contracted the coronavirus. The guards moved him to a filthy, windowless cell for 12 days while he suffered multiple symptoms. He and Deputy Public Defender Kelly Wells, of our Immigration Defense Unit, spoke with KQED‘s Farida Jhabvala Romero.

“That cell is not for a human being, it’s like for keeping a dangerous animal locked up. There’s no TV, there’s nothing,” said Erazo Herrera. “You start feeling so depressed that you think about killing yourself. You wonder what you’ve done to deserve to be treated this way.”

“We’ve heard consistently from every single detainee who has been moved since the order that they have arrived to filthy cells that clearly hadn’t even been cleaned, much less disinfected,” [deputy public defender kelly wells] said.


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