ICE is force-feeding six detained immigrants on a hunger strike that’s lasted a month in a Texas immigration jail, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
According to AP, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 11 people at an El Paso facility have been refusing food, some for more than 30 days. Four others, who are being held by ICE in Miami, San Diego, Phoenix, and San Francisco, are also refusing food. Detainees, members of their families, and an attorney told the wire service that nearly 30 immigrants from India and Cuba are participating in the hunger strike.
The protest began around the beginning of this month, initiated by detainees protesting verbal abuse and deportation threats lobbed by ICE agents, as well as what they’ve described as unnecessarily long stays in the ICE holding centers due to slow court proceedings. Naturally, ICE hasn’t mentioned the reason behind the strike, per the El Paso Times.
The agency is using plastic tubes that run through their nose and down to their stomachs. The force-feeding started during the second week of January, when a federal judge approved ICE’s request, the newspaper reported—the judge also ignored the men’s pleas for better living conditions and speedier legal proceedings, saying only that ICE would be required to follow federal guidelines. Amrit Singh, who said his two nephews from India are currently taking part in the hunger strike, told the AP that the tubes cause constant nosebleeds and vomiting.
“They are not well. Their bodies are really weak, they can’t talk and they have been hospitalized, back and forth,” Singh told the AP. “They want to know why they are still in the jail and want to get their rights and wake up the government immigration system.”
With ICE happily teaming up with the private prison industry to price gouge the people they keep as prisoners (regardless of if they’re immigrants or native-born Americans), and the former head of the agency committed to being just an absolute asshole, it’s pretty clear how comfortable the folks running ICE feel at the moment. As the protest enters its second month, here’s hoping the men having plastic tubing shoved in their noses just to make Americans aware of what their government is inflicting on those hoping to enter this country aren’t doing so in vain.