Held in solitary confinement and unable to sleep, Carlos Murillo Vega spent his days pacing around the cell with walls so close he could almost touch them both with arms outstretched.
Murillo was born in Mexico and raised in Holtville, a California town near the Mexican border. He says he is a U.S. citizen but lacks the necessary paperwork to prove it. After being detained by immigration authorities in December 2019, he thought the situation would be resolved within weeks. Now Murillo, 40, is suing the private detention company that held him in isolation for more than a year.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday by the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice and other groups in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against the Management and Training Corp., a Utah-based private prison company. It’s the first such case under a new California law that allows people to sue private detention center operators for failing to comply with the standards of care outlined in the facility’s contract.
When he arrived at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, Murillo alleges in his suit that an employee had offered him a choice about where to be housed: general population or protective custody. The employee warned that general population was more dangerous. Murillo, grateful for the advice, accepted the offer of protection.
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