Zepeda Rivas v. Jennings (Immigration Detention)

Status: CLOSED

Zepeda Rivas v. Jennings is a class action lawsuit alleging that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) violated the constitutional rights of all immigrants in their custody at Mesa Verde and the Yuba County jails by detaining them in dangerous, crowded, unsanitary conditions where they could not maintain social distance from one another during the pandemic. 

The case seeks the release of detained individuals represented in the suit to facilitate social distancing. Over the course of the litigation, plaintiffs have also sought coronavirus testing of detained individuals and staff, population caps, and quarantine and isolation policies to prevent outbreaks. The litigation is predicated on the reality that the pandemic poses a serious health risk to all adults and that the Constitution requires that ICE protect the health and safety of those in its custody.  

The population of the two facilities, which was more than 400 at the time the suit was filed, now stands at well under 100.

A coalition of legal organizations is representing the plaintiffs, including the ACLU Foundations of Northern California and Southern California, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Lakin & Wille LLP, and Cooley LLP.

On January 27, 2022 a  settlement agreement was reached that will compel ICE and GEO to preserve safety measures to protect people in immigration detention from COVID-19. It will also limit ICE’s authority to redetain the hundreds of people released during the course of the lawsuit.  

The plaintiffs in Zepeda Rivas v. Jennings presented the groundbreaking settlement agreement to Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court of Northern California for preliminary approval.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily approved the proposed settlement on March 4, 2022, and the settlement received final approval after a fairness hearing.