HomeIndian AmericanForce-feeding of Immigrant Detainees Halted; Hunger Strike Spreads

Force-feeding of Immigrant Detainees Halted; Hunger Strike Spreads

Hunger Strike

Views from the Edge

The hunger strikers in the immigrant detention center are no longer being force-fed after a judge said ICE had to stop force-feeding them.
On Feb. 14, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stopped force-feeding the hunger strikers, most of them from the Punjab region of India, inside the El Paso detention center in Texas, reports the Associated Press.

“No hunger strikers housed in El Paso are currently being fed pursuant to court orders at this time. Medical staff at the facility continue to closely monitor the health and vital signs of all the hunger strikers to insure they continue to receive proper medical care,” ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said in a statement.

Twelve people at the detention center—nine from India and three from Cuba—remain on hunger strikes, said Zamarripa.

“This is a win for us,” said Louis Lopez, who is representing Malkeet Singh and Jasvir Singh in the case heard Feb. 13 in El Paso. Both men are Punjabi Sikhs in their early 20s. “They have a First Amendment right to protest.

Supporters of the Sikhs, some who have been in ICE custody more than a year while fighting deportation, were protesting the length and conditions of their detention.

Michelle Iglesias, an ICE physician overseeing the force-feeding in the El Paso facility, said she will seek a court order when she observes a drop in magnesium, phosphate and potassiam levels, among other health factors.

The hunger strikers, who are getting legal support from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The El Paso hunger strike has inspired other immigrant detainees. Rhode Island-based community groups Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance and the Fighting Against Natural Gas Collective say they’ve been in contact with about 70 detainees at the Suffolk County House of Correction who are participating in a hunger strike that began Feb. 15.

The communications director for Sikh Americans Legal Defense and Education Fund Gujari Singh said, “It is imperative that the Department of Homeland Security immediately release the individuals engaged in these hunger strikes to ensure their well-being, safety, and protection of their due process rights.”

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