Prepared Testimony regarding Data Collection and Keeping Communities Safe

The following is prepared testimony given by Esmeralda Flores, Immigrant Rights and Binational Affairs Advocate, to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Good Morning Board Chair Jacob and Supervisors Cox, Gaspar, Fletcher and Desmond.

My name is Esmeralda Flores. I am the Immigrant Rights and Binational Affairs Advocate for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU is a proud member of the Invest in San Diego Families Coalition.

We are here to today to urge the Board of Supervisors to ensure that San Diego County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is grounded in science, data-driven and aligned with our region’s shared values of fairness, compassion and public safety.

We continue to call on the county to collect (and share with the public) additional demographic data associated with COVID-19 testing, confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

  • We see clear evidence of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people and communities of color, especially the African American community.
  • It is essential that the county disaggregate the data it collects by race, ethnicity, whether a person is an essential worker, and other important categories.

It is imperative that the county government continue to reduce the number of children and adults in its custody. CDC guidelines for social distancing and hygiene are impossible to comply with in jail.

  • We urge you to call on Chief Probation Officer Gonzalez, Sheriff Gore and District Attorney Stephan to protect lives by releasing as many children and adults as quickly and as safely as possible.

It is also critical to increase the rate of testing in our jails so that we have a full understanding of the situation.

  • There are more than 4,000 people in San Diego County jails. As of April 28, only 112 had been tested.
  • That’s less than 3 percent.

We’ve seen the reports about poor sanitary conditions inside the jail. Such conditions jeopardize the well-being of people in custody, of county employees who work at the jail, their families and communities in which they live.

  • We call on you to ensure that folks in the custody of the county government have access to PPE, personal hygiene and other sanitary supplies.

Finally, as people are being released from jail and immigration detention it is critical that they have a safe place to go.

  • We urge you and the Public Health Department to put a process in place to ensure these people have access to the hotel and motel rooms secured by the county.

We the people are counting on you, our elected representatives, to act responsibly in this unprecedented public health crisis.

On behalf of the ACLU, thank you for your public service and for your responsible, fair and humane leadership.