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Federal judge condemns treatment at Mesa Verde ICE facility

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Posted at 8:01 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 11:01:05-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A federal court decision has been handed down in regards to the treatment of people at the Mesa Verde Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center.

Judge Vince Chhabria from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California condemned actions by ICE that "showed a deliberate indifference to the safety of the detainees."
The judge criticized in particular their handling of COVID-19, saying there was an avoidance of widespread testing.

“From the start of the public health crisis until now. The conduct of the key ICE and GEO officials in charge of operations at Mesa Verde has been appalling. These officials knew that they needed a clear and detailed plan to minimize the risk of an outbreak (and to contain an outbreak if one occurred), but nine months later they still have not created one,” wrote Chhabria.

The virus spread through the center with 57 of the 103 people detained testing positive. Nearly one-third of the staff also tested positive, including 15 in the past two weeks.

In a statement released by the ACLU, Willian Mattias Rauda, who has been detained by ICE since November 2018, said: “We don’t feel safe; we all are afraid we will die here. We want to return to our children, our wives, and our communities. We should not be in this dangerous facility.”

“ICE has both refused to keep people safe and repeatedly misrepresented its actions to the court. The new administration should take heed of the court’s observation that ICE and GEO have lost the right to be trusted,” said Bree Bernwanger, senior staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

23ABC reached out to ICE for a statement and they said: "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently reviewing the U.S. District Court Northern District of California’s decision issued Dec. 3, pertaining to Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center. ICE has no further comment at this time, as the matter is pending litigation."