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ACLU sends letter to ICE requesting release of 24 at-risk immigrants at Bakersfield detention center

Mesa Verde Detention Center to remain open

The American Civil Liberties Union has submitted a letter to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement requesting that they immediately release detainees at its Bakersfield detention center.

The letter requests that ICE release 24 detainees at the Mesa Verde detention center in Bakersfield who are at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 due to their age and/or underlying health conditions. 

“The risk of contracting COVID-19 in congregate settings is very high,” the letter states. “Despite an overwhelming consensus of public health experts calling for a systematic reduction in the number of people detained, starting with those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, you have failed to release people like a 74-year-old man with chronic respiratory problems who this week was diagnosed with lung cancer. You are courting a calamity and endangering us all. We urge you in the strongest terms to change course.”

In its letter, the ACLU included a list of the names and conditions of the 24 people. However, in the version sent out to the public, the names are redacted at this time, as the union has not yet received permission to disclose them. 

The letter comes after the ACLU announced earlier this week that it has filed a lawsuit in federal court demanding ICE release twelve at-risk immigrants, who are plaintiffs in the suit, detained at two ICE detention centers in the state. 

The plaintiffs are detained in the Mesa Verde Detention Center in Bakersfield and at the Yuba County Jail, according to the ACLU.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU Foundations of Northern California and Southern California, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and Lakin & Wille LLP. 

KGET has reached out to ICE for comment.

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