Stop ICE from abusing and force-feeding refugee hunger strikers
ICE is torturing Punjabi asylum seekers who have been on hunger strike for more than a month.1
Medical staff and guards at ICE's El Paso Processing Center are reportedly strapping down and force-feeding these refugees through their noses, severely wounding their throats. Some are frail, can barely talk and suffer from persistent nose bleeds. Many passed their credible fear interviews. All are putting their bodies on the line to protest their prolonged detention and denial of bond.
Several asylum seekers – including children – have already died in ICE custody over the past few months. To stop the abuse and killings, we need to turn up the pressure on the House Committees Homeland Security, the Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform to hold ICE accountable and free the nine hunger strikers in El Paso immediately.
Stop ICE from abusing and force-feeding refugee hunger strikers.
Because the government denies South Asians bond hearings at higher rates than other asylum-seekers, they serve longer sentences in detention and have a history of using hunger strikes to shine a light on this injustice.2
In 2014, a group of 37 Sikh asylum seekers stopped eating after the government denied them bond and language interpretation for months.3 The year after that, more than 50 Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Afghan asylum seekers did the same.4 Our friends at Desis Rising Up and Moving confirmed that the government deported many of those detainees to Bangladesh.
As a country built by refugees, we should be welcoming people escaping violence, not forcing them to risk their lives again to fight for their right to due process.
ICE says that hunger strikes are not common and force-feeding is exceedingly rare. That is a lie. Since May 2015, more than 1,300 people have gone on hunger strike at 18 immigrant detention facilities.5 Congress must put a check on Trump's racist regime and stop allowing his corrupt and violent deportation force get away with abusing immigrants and then covering it up.
The U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights recently released a statement saying that the Trump regime's force-feeding of refugee hunger strikers could violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture.6 Fourteen congressional Democrats just sent a letter to ICE requesting more information about reports of the agency's mistreatment of detainees in El Paso.7 Now it's up to us to turn up the pressure even more.
Join us, our friends at South Asian Americans Leading Together and Defending Rights and Dissent to demand that Congress act now to stop ICE's torture and abuse of immigrant hunger strikers. Add your name now.
Thanks for speaking out to protect immigrants and refugees.
- Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza, "APNewsBreak: ICE force-feeding detainees on hunger strike," Associated Press, Jan. 31, 2019.
- Samantha Michaels, "How an El Paso Detention Center Is Treating Some Asylum-Seekers Could Violate the UN Convention Against Torture," Mother Jones, Feb. 9, 2019.
- Burke and Mendoza, "APNewsBreak: ICE force-feeding detainees on hunger strike."
- Garance Burke, "UN: US force-feeding immigrants may breach torture agreement," The Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2019.