El Paso, Texas —
Immigrant rights advocates, civil rights organizations, and local community groups are deeply alarmed by the latest developments involving nine Sikh asylum seekers on hunger strike for more than 40 days protesting their incarceration at the El Paso Service Processing Center (EPSPC). Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has responded with abusive retaliation, including force-feeding at least nine of the asylum seekers, a cruel, degrading and inhumane practice. Now, ICE is threatening deportation.
‘They have scars on their arms from IVs, and are suffering from rectal bleeding and blood in their vomit in addition to persistent stomach, chest, and throat pain. They recounted abuse after abuse at the hands of ICE agents and medical staff at the facility. They’ve lost 40 to 50 pounds,” said Ruby Kaur, an attorney representing two of the hunger strikers who visited the facility today and met with all nine asylum seekers on hunger strike. ‘They told me ICE agents have threatened them with deportation as early as Friday morning, despite them being in no physical condition to travel. ICE agents responded that there was nothing that they could do and that they didn’t care.”
Amrit Singh, the uncle to two of the Sikh asylum seekers on hunger strike, attempted to put money into the commissary accounts of three of the strikers and money was returned back to his card. This development is particularly alarming because ICE frequently cuts off detainees’ phone accounts prior to deportation.
‘We demand the immediate release of the hunger strikers and that they receive critical medical care,” said Nathan Craig of AVID. ‘ICE has a long documented history of abuse, clearly indicating that people are not safe in its custody. We call on Representative Escobar of Texas to stand with the migrant community and demand their release, while insisting on an independent investigation of the facility and ICE Field Office, yielding swift disciplinary consequences over the strikers’ treatment.”
Since May 2015, Freedom for Immigrants has documented nearly 1,400 people on hunger strike in 18 immigration detention facilities. A troubling pattern as President Trump continues to expand the detention system to skyrocketing proportions, leading to an increase in abuse and death. Since March of 2018, AVID volunteers have been collecting reports of large numbers of detained South Asians hunger striking at both EPSPC and the neighboring Otero County Processing Center.
‘In the shadow of Trump’s border wall is immigration detention, a system shrouded in secrecy where a culture of violence persists,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of Policy and Advocacy for South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). ‘The retaliation and abuse that hunger strikers have been forced to endure underscore the egregious conditions endemic to the detention system nationwide. It also echoes the cases of abuse and torture of South Asian migrants in particular, in detention facilities in the U.S., including most recently at the Adelanto Detention Center in California.”
Sign the petition to support the hunger strikers at the El Paso Processing Center: https://rightsanddissent.salsalabs.org/ICEForceFeeding/index.html
ICE threatens El Paso hunger strikers with deportation
El Paso, Texas —