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Black immigrant locked in cell without proper bed for 7 days at Mesa Verde

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Posted at 10:50 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 01:50:26-04

MESA VERDE, Calif. — Attorneys with Centro Legal have submitted new legal filings after learning that Alton Edmondson, an immigrant from Jamaica, has been kept in a makeshift cell with no proper bed for seven days at the Mesa Verde immigration detention center in Bakersfield, California.

Detained immigrants reported that Edmondson is the only person who was held in the makeshift "intake" cell for longer than 24 hours.

Edmonson described being treated "like an animal" in conditions where he is deprived of sleep, lacked food in compliance with his religious diet, and couldn't attend court or schedule calls with his attorney.

The information about Edmondson's mistreatment came as an alliance of Black immigrant-led organizations publicly released a letter Tuesday which was sent on July 30 to Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Senator Kamala Harris.

The letter urges the officials to take concrete action to protect the lives of Black immigrants detained by ICE, and criticizes what organizers see as mere lip service to a series of urgent requests from detained people since the pandemic began.

African Advocacy Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Black LGBTQIA Migrant Project spearheaded the letter, which was endorsed by over 60 immigrant rights organizations.

"If Gov. Newsom, Sen. Harris and other elected officials truly care about Black lives, they should listen to the voice of Black immigrants in detention," said Lisa Knox of Centro Legal de la Raza. "We need action."

"In representing and advocating for clients, our organization has witnessed black immigrants disproportionately experience worse treatment in facilities. This is also a demographic that is at an increased risk of complications due to the virus and the prioritization of their release is crucial," said Maria Arrine of the African Advocacy Network.