FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2021
SF Public Defender’s Office – Valerie.Ibarra@sfgov.org – (628)249-7946
Free The Yuba 11 Campaign – Edwin@ccijustice.org – (415) 933-4922
Last Two Remaining Immigrants Detained by ICE in Yuba County Jail Seek Release
Defense attorneys file writs of habeas corpus in Federal Court, argue their detention is unlawful
SAN FRANCISCO — On September 30, 2021, attorneys for the last two remaining immigrants in ICE custody at the Yuba County Jail filed writs of habeas corpus in California’s Northern District Court, alleging that their continued detention is unlawful.
Ricardo Vasquez Cruz and Luis Castro Ramos are the only two immigration detainees remaining in the facility, after a lawsuit led to hundreds of releases from ICE’s Northern California detention centers due to the dangerous pandemic conditions. Mr. Vasquez 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. Mr. Castro Ramos has been detained 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. Attorneys argue that both men should be released to their communities to continue fighting their cases.
Mr. Vasquez Cruz and Mr. Castro 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.
The Yuba County Jail 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 has been subject to a judge’s consent decree to improve conditions. Recently, inspections by the federal Office of Detention Oversight found 19 violations of detention standards in 2020 and 21 violations in 2021 in areas including health and safety, security, and healthcare.
Background and Post-Release Plans
Mr. Vasquez Cruz, who has lived in the United States for nearly twenty 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. He has spent three and a half years in ICE detention. His mother suffered an injury at her workplace and is on disability leave, juggling medical complications from several conditions while also single-handedly raising Ricardo’s adolescent son. If released, Mr. Vasquez Cruz would continue attending alcohol rehabilitation programs and return to his long-time unionized job as a sound and communications technician.
Mr. Castro Ramos has lived in the United States since 1974, when he was seven years old. 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, Mr. Castro Ramos has always lived with and supported his mother, working jobs in construction and commercial salmon. His detention for the past eighteen months has been a hardship to her, particularly because she is receiving treatment for Stage 4 cancer. His release would lift a tremendous source of anxiety for her. Mr. Castro Ramos has a bed paid for and waiting for him at a six-month inpatient alcohol treatment center near their home in Monterey County.
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.”
Luis Castro Ramos’s attorney, Scott Mossman, said, “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.”
The FreeTheYuba11 Campaign issued the following statement, “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.”