FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2021
Valerie Ibarra | Valerie.Ibarra@sfgov.org | 628-249-7946 | S.F. Public Defender’s Office
Laura Duarte Bateman | email@example.com | 415-684-5463 | FreeTheYuba11 Coalition
BREAKING: Last Person in ICE Custody at the Yuba County Jail Released After Pressure from Advocates, Attorneys, and Members of Congress
Termination of ICE Contract with Yuba may be imminent
Marysville, CA — Today, the last remaining individual detained by ICE at the Yuba County Jail, Ricardo Vasquez Cruz, has been released after more than 3 years of incarceration. The news comes at the heels of a letter led by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Lou Correa, along with 22 members of Congress, to Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, urging the closure of two private detention centers in California and the contract termination with Yuba County Jail where Ricardo was detained. He is now reunited with his mother, 18-year-old son, sister, extended family and community.
San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju said, “Our office and the community kept pushing for Ricardo’s release and together we made it resoundingly clear that there was no justification for his detention. This is what community power looks like.”
Ricardo Vasquez Cruz reports, “I’m content to be with my family. I never stopped fighting to stop my deportation, get released, and stay here with my family. I don’t have the words to express how I feel, how it feels to be with my family again. Thank you to everyone who worked to support me and helped fight for my liberty.”
The “Free the Yuba 11 Campaign Coalition” along with Ricardo’s family and his attorney, San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Friedman, spearheaded Ricardo’s release campaign which involved community rallies, vigils, and congressional pressure. Ricardo also led hunger strikes at the jail to improve the inhumane conditions immigrants were subjected to. The campaign crossed off its penultimate goal with Ricardo’s release. Now the question remains: With zero people detained at Yuba, will ICE shut down this facility?
The Free the Yuba 11 campaign stated, “We are thrilled to know Ricardo is back in his community and will finally be able to get the urgent medical attention that he was denied for more than 3 years inside Yuba County Jail! The FreeTheYuba11 campaign is one of many site-fights across the country demanding the shutdown of all immigrant detention centers. This campaign has shown the impact the community-legal partnership can have to demonstrate community-based care is the alternate vision to incarceration. The campaign uplifted the humanity of each individual, showed us our need for each other, and a world without cages where we can all heal.”
A vigil, initially planned to demand Ricardo’s release, will now be a community celebration in which formerly detained individuals, their families, advocates, legal service providers and supporters of the FreeTheYuba11 campaign will celebrate Ricardo’s release, remember the lives lost in immigrant detention, and stand in solidarity for those who remain detained. The vigil will be held on Saturday, October 30, 2021 at 11AM at Dolores Park in San Francisco, CA.
The press release is endorsed by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and the FreeTheYuba11 Campaign Coalition, including: California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, Centro Legal de la Raza, Dolores Street Community Services, Faithful Friends, and Pangea Legal Services.
*This press release was updated to attribute the second quote to the Free the Yuba 11 campaign.*