August 30, 2019
As we reported earlier in the week, hunger strikes continue in El Paso and Miami. The latest from Detention Watch Network:
Three men detained at ICE's El Paso Service Processing Center and one man detained at Miami's Krome North Service Processing Center are hunger striking in protest of their prolonged detention, due process violations, and the threat of deportation to the country they fled.
As of August 27, 2019, the men in El Paso are on the 50th day of their hunger strike, and the man in Miami is on his 43rd day without food. Through court orders obtained by ICE, the men in El Paso are being force-fed, in violation of medical ethics and human rights standards. The man in Krome was in the hospital for two weeks.
ICE has stated their intention to pursue a court order for force feeding if necessary.
In federal court, one man challenging this torture testified about the pain of having a nasogastric tube inserted into his body. Despite the pain, he asserted he would continue on hunger strike. "I want my freedom," one man said. "After that, I will drink any protein shake or eat anything that's given to me."
Sign the petition demanding their release here. Groups offering direct solidarity and support on the ground you can also follow are: Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (EL Paso) and the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (Miami).
This morning's Guardian had a report on the strike. A focus of the report was the poor medical treatment the men are receiving:
Dr. Parveen Parmar, chief of the division of global emergency medicine at the University of Southern California, said in an affidavit that the 33-year-old asylum seeker, Ajay Kumar, is receiving “the worst medical care I have seen in my 10 years of practice”.
Assembly of African Migrants in Tapachula issues statement
We shared information yesterday concerning changes in visa procedures in Mexico that have resulted in refugees from Africa being forced to stay in southern Mexico (or leave across the southern border), effectively being denied the right to attempt to get asylum in the United States. There have been demonstrations in Tapachula, which have been violently repressed.
The Assembly of African Migrants in Tapachula released a statement yesterday, cosigned by human rights organizations, demanding that visas be reinstated and their right to demonstrate be recognized. The statement reads, in part (full statement here):
Most of us have been detained at the immigration detention centre Siglo XXI. At no time did we have translation into our languages. They made us sign documents that we did not understand. They gave us a document talking about our alleged statelessness, and tricked us by telling us that with that document we could travel without being arrested. Those of us who tried, were detained again and returned to Tapachula. We were told that we could access to a Visa for Humanitarian Reasons, but we were finally denied.
Many of us deliver the documents to the Immigration Regularization Office, and after weeks of waiting they have given us a negative response to the statelessness figure, due to alleged errors in the writing of our names in the departure document. Errors that were made by the immigration officials of the National Institute of Migration themselves, and for which we paid the consequences.
They have tricked us. They deny us the possibility of leaving Tapachula, where we feel blocked and desperate, as well as suffering constant acts of racism and hostility by the immigration authorities.
The current consequences on us are of suffering and misery. Our situation is deplorable and violates our human rights. Over the weeks we have run out of any resources or means of subsistence. Hundreds of families are in a street situation, spending the nights outdoors and under the rain. We have nothing to eat, many people are getting sick, especially girls, boys and pregnant women. If we continue in this situation, many and many of us will die here.
When we go out to the streets to demand solutions and rights, we suffer more repression by agents of the National Guard and Municipal Police, we are treated with violence while the competent authorities neither listen to us nor receive us. They only treat us with contempt, indifference and hostility. On Tuesday, August 27, the situation became much more violent not only against those who were protesting outside the Immigration Detention Centre, demanding a response from the immigration authorities, they even hit journalists covering the demonstration.
Faced with this, the actions of the State authorities were repression and direct physical aggressions, including through tear gas against people and blows with stones. A Cameroonian brother who was hit by a federal policeman with a stone in the head, lost consciousness and had to be rushed to the hospital with heavy head bleeding.
What rights do we claim?
Under these circumstances, the Assembly of African and African Migrants in Tapachula, demand:
- For those of us who need to continue our way north, in search of protection in the United States or Canada, that the Mexican government allows us to access the Visa for Humanitarian Reasons without delay, so that we can move as soon as possible from Tapachula.
- For those of us who need to benefit from international protection in Mexico, that we can access without delay to the procedure for requesting the recognition of refuge.
- For all of the affected population, we require urgent humanitarian assistance in matters of food, housing, health and hygiene, to prevent the deterioration of our physical and mental health, and the loss of lives.
- We finally demand that the security forces ensure that no more reprisals will be committed and no more violence will be used against us because of claiming our rights and expressing our collective demands.
Mississippi raids still having an impact, ways to help
The massive raids that took place in Mississippi two weeks ago - during which 680 people were arrested, over half detained by ICE at facilities in Louisiana. The raids took place at seven poultry plants in six small towns outside of Jackson, Mississippi, the heart of the poultry processing industry in the state. In the wake of the raids, hundreds of more workers lost their jobs as companies purged employees with any uncertainty regarding their immigration status. Dozens of children are with friends, as parents remain in detention. Local economies have suffered a great deal and fear of further action is widespread.
If you are able to help out either in Mississippi, or remotely, you can register to do so here. Many people have offered assistance, so be patience in awaiting a response.
There is a collective fundraising campaign dividing donations between several organizations working in the area. You can find out more information about that here.