January 30, 2020
We have been tracking the story of hunger strikers being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention in Jena, Louisiana. That hunger strike has now passed 90 days, and the men’s lives are in grave danger. From the Guardian’s in depth report in today’s edition:
Five men are on a hunger strike that has gone on for longer than 90 days, protesting against their detention at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) facility in Jena, Louisiana. Now advocates worry the men are on the brink of death.
The men have applied for asylum in the US and are waiting for an immigration judge to rule on their cases.
Advocates have filed an official complaint against Ice, condemning the organization for not providing the men with proper medical treatment during the strike. Two men have reportedly been force-fed – an act that multiple medical associations and human rights groups in the United States have said is inhumane and unethical.
A second complaint was filed alleging Ice has not released the medical records of two of the men for independent review, a right that exists for those in Ice detention to ensure they are getting proper treatment.
The men are all from south Asia and are seeking asylum in the US out of fear of religious persecution or retaliation for their political beliefs back home. Advocates say all five have friends and family in the United States who are waiting for them to be released.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is currently holding 40,000 people in detention - 25% are asylum seekers who have already passed credible fear interviews.
You can take action to support the hunger strikers and demand their immediate release! From Freedom for Immigrants:
1.) We found a pressure point. Please call and email John Hartnett, the Acting ICE Field Office Director in New Orleans (318-992-1594 and John.Hartnett@ice.dhs.gov) and demand these men be released to the care of their family, friends, and doctors in the community.
Below is a sample script:
"MY NAME IS [NAME] AND I REPRESENT [ORGANIZATION/COUNTY WHERE YOU LIVE]. I AM CALLING IN STRONG SUPPORT OF THE 5 SOUTH ASIAN ASYLUM SEEKERS DETAINED AT LASALLE DETENTION FACILITY. THEY HAVE PASSED DAY 90 OF THEIR HUNGER STRIKE FOR FREEDOM AND ARE ON THE BRINK OF DEATH. ACCORDING TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS, DAY 75 OF A HUNGER STRIKE IS WHEN VITAL ORGANS BEGIN TO FAIL. I URGE ICE TO RELEASE THE MEN.
CONTINUING TO DETAIN THESE MEN RISKS WHOLLY PREVENTABLE DEATHS IN ICE DETENTION. I URGE YOUR OFFICE TO RELEASE THESE MEN INTO THE CARE OF THEIR COMMUNITIES."
Amplify on social here.
Thank you to everyone who has called so far, let’s keep fighting for our friends behind bars.
2.) Bond funds. One of the men fighting for his life has a bond hearing on Thursday the 30th, just one day before his final asylum hearing. We are hopeful the judge will give him a fair chance where ICE is failing. However, judges in Louisiana have the worst approval rate in the country. He also has no legal representation for his asylum case, a reality faced by far, far too many. THIS is why he is striking. In order to prevent him from having to represent himself before a judge while weakened by day 90 of his hunger strike, the total bond amount must be paid in full that same day.
There is no upper limit for immigration bonds, but Freedom for Immigrants has documented a range of $1,500 to $250,000, with most totaling $5,000 to $20,000. Our National Bond Fund is currently very low on funds but there is still an overwhelming need. Any donations made during this hunger strike will be prioritized to pay for the mens’ bonds.
Call. Email. Share. Support. Let’s continue to work together to free these men who are literally putting their bodies on the line for freedom and justice!