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Groups seek release of Filipino immigrant detained in Adelanto

Steve Angeles | TFC News Los Angeles

Posted at Sep 22 2023 05:18 PM

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A movement in Los Angeles is growing to free a Filipino woman who has been in custody and is facing the threat of deportation for the past five years.

Ligaya Ronduen Jensen became a permanent U.S. resident in 1998, after migrating stateside with her family then as a child.

In 2014, she took a plea deal in a case on the advice of her attorney, not knowing that it could lead to her deportation.

After serving four years in a state prison, she was placed in deportation proceedings, and she has been detained at the ICE Adelanto detention center since 2018.

The 46-year-old's family now live in California. Judges previously denied her release, saying she remains a flight-risk and a supposed menace to society.

Jensen phoned in from Adelanto to speak to the activists to talk about her well being. There, she raised concerns on the conditions inside the facility.

"I made poor decisions 12 years ago and quickly learned from it," said Jensen. "I miss my family everyday and every night."

Jill Colcol of Gabriela USA said the ICE detainee has been a victim of the system.

"We are demanding her freedom," she said. "Enough is enough. These detention centers should not exist anymore."

Jensen added: "I cry myself in my bunk, constantly waking up to cry again. I just want to be home with my family. Being isolated is torture."

The Filipino immigrant is the lead plaintiff in a class action suit against GEO Group, a private company that owns and operates numerous prison facilities including Adelanto.

The lawsuit alleges that GEO Group has been using toxic chemicals when cleaning their facilities, poisoning the inmates.

Jensen said she herself has been suffering from health problems because of the chemicals.

"It expands beyond just her case," said Colcol. "We should be really critical of the the incarceration system and these services shouldn’t exist. We should prioritize the people, services that provide jobs, health care, provide a healthy place to live."

Petitions to free Jensen have been making its rounds online, while activists continue to make visits to Adelanto.

There, they call for the release of Jensen along with the eight other people who are still fighting their deportation.

Groups are also raising money for Jensen to use on the prison commissary, hoping it would make her detainment a bit more bearable as she waits for her release.