Asylum-seekers fleeing violence in their home countries are being indefinitely held in private detention centers under horrendous conditions and set for deportation to countries where they face immediate danger. In light of this situation detainees in these facilities began a series of hunger strikes, demanding immediate release and an end to deportation. The hunger strikes originated mid- October at an El Paso detention center with 54 South Asian detainees and it quickly spread to several other detention centers in the South, including the LaSalle Detention Center in Louisiana, the T.Don Hutto Detention center, the East and West Facility of Adelanto in California and more, as the risk of death through starvation became their only route to freedom. These acts of solidarity show the level of desperation for humane treatment that is not provided by our government. The detainees made the following demands:
1. DHS must stop their deportations and investigate the allegations below
2. DOJ and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) must investigate whether these individuals were given a fair and full hearing, including access to interpretation that they could understand, access to their own documents and decisions in their cases
3. DHS must release asylum seekers from detention.
4. Transfer these individuals to detention facilities that are closer to their families
5. Stop the disparate treatment of South Asian immigrants detained in DHS facilities and ensure that these individuals are being provided with interpreters
6. DHS must provide adequate access to basic medical care and provide interpretation services
Most detainees already have approved credible fear findings, which should make them eligible for release to U.S. relatives until their asylum cases are heard. But they are still being detained. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been acting against their own laws and holding detainees captive anywhere from six months to two years. Oppressive officials have tried to isolate the strikers, and continue to target, isolate and intimidate specific individuals. They have already deported one of the key hunger strike leaders, Md. Tarek Ahmed, back to their home country of Bangladesh. ICE has been trying to strangle organized efforts, pressuring them to end the strikes through torture tactics like solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, humiliating strip-searches, forced catheterization, and further endangerment of life through exposure to government officials from whom many are fleeing.
We do not see such events as a few isolated bad apples but a microcosm in the larger picture of a global system that oppresses the vast majority of people in other countries through imperialism, not as only a policy, but a system, that of a global capitalist system. A system which creates victims across the world and seeks to deny any refuge to those fleeing the consequences of their pillage and plunder. While abroad oppressed nations are exploited for super profits in sweatshops and factories, as undocumented immigrants they are also exploited as either cheap labor either in prisons or in other sectors of the economy. Currently, Immigration Enforcement uses tactics like harassment, raids, detentions, and deportations, making immigrants the fastest growing segment of prison populations. The recurrent patterns underlying these are white supremacy, imperialism and capitalist profits. The past decade has seen immense growth of the immigration policing and detention system, for what? This is a question that must be discussed in a larger discussion around immigrants rights activists. As well as a grim lesson on what it is like to be Black in America, for these intolerant and oppressive government actions are comparable to the targeting and hyper-incarceration of poor black people. Racist and vicious actions of government agencies, such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, local police departments and Immigration officials seek to also oppress, contain, and exploit poor black people and people of color. We must view ICE and the entire judicial system as the same enemy and smash the myth of the “good cop” being forced to do immigration, which will prevent him from “fighting crime”, Such myths need to be discarded.
As an Anti-Racist and Anti-Imperialist organization in solidarity with all oppressed peoples not only in this country but abroad as well, Progressive Youth Organization is calling all progressive minded people of any background to come out and express solidarity with those who dare to struggle for their freedom on Thursday December 17, 2015 at 5:00 PM in front of the Kansas City Immigration Court on 2345 Grand Boulevard. We will weather cold conditions which is only a pittance of what these brave souls have endured to tell the world of their story, join us.
BREAK THE CAGES!
SOLIDARITY WITH ALL REFUGEES!