24 migrants go on hunger strike to protest detainment in US

Two dozen migrants held in Louisiana continued a hunger strike this week to protest their detention as many wait for asylum claims to be processed in the U.S. 

Immigrant advocates told The Associated Press that 150 people began the strike last week, but government officials say only 24 have consistently denied food.

ADVERTISEMENT

The strikers at River Correctional Center in Ferriday, La., say they are upset over being denied bond and the lack of attention they say their cases get.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began contracting with the privately-run prison earlier this year to deal with a spike in border crossings.

An ICE spokesperson told the AP that about 500 people are detained there, but strikers say they have limited access to ICE staff and haven’t been able to convince a judge they should be released while their asylum claims are pending.

“It’s a charade of due process,” Rachel Taber, an organizer with the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice who met with the immigrants this week, told the AP.

“Their perception is that this will not be a real justice or a real court process.” 

ICE defines a hunger strike as a protest that rejects nine consecutive meals. It told the AP that it respects the strikers’ rights, but does explain to them the costs of not eating and closely monitors their health. 

“ICE does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers,” a spokesman said. 

The Louisiana hunger strike follows one in El Paso, Texas, in which a court order allowed ICE agents to force-feed some detainees. 

The news comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE threatens to shutter the border next week to grapple with the rising number of illegal border crossings.