Eloy Detention Center, Eloy, Arizona
June 13th, 2015
On Saturday, June 13th, over 200 detainees sat down in the recreation yard of the Eloy Detention Center and engaged in a hunger strike. The prisoners stated the main reasons for the strike were a demand for better medical and mental health care as well as in response to inhumane and abusive conditions within the facility. They also demanded a full halt on deportations.
The strike comes after the mysterious death at Eloy of José de Jesús Deniz-Sahagún, a detainee from Mexico. Detainees allege guards beat him and locked him up in solitary confinement before his death. Detainees also claim a second man died in custody after being abused by guards, but ICE has refused to acknowledge the death. Deniz-Sahagún was the fourth immigrant detainee to die in detention this year, according to the Tucson Sentinel.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guards at the facility did not let the striking detainees back inside for at least 6 hours, according to the Phoenix-based immigration advocacy group Puente Movement. In that time, temperatures were in the 100s and the prisoners were without water.
Some families of the detainees were unable to reach their relatives in the facility because of the strike. Ana Cobos Lugo, of Tucson, tried calling the facility to reach her father–who has been recovering from serious surgery–and was hung up on. “We haven’t heard from him since Friday,” the 17-year-old says. She and the rest of her family drove to Eloy Sunday for a rally in support of the hunger strike. “I will keep calling until I speak with my father,” she said. She and her family were not allowed to visit him because of the strike and were not given any answer on when they could see him again.
Sandra Ojeda, whose husband is detained in Eloy and participating in the hunger strike said, “My husband returned to the United States after being deported to Mexico because he feared for his life there. Now, he has to fear for his life because of the way guards are treating people detained in Eloy. Because he doesn’t want to live in fear any longer, he and other detainees are making sure their voices are heard.”
According to the Puente Movement, the detainees’ demands are:
1. Independent investigation into the two recent deaths in Eloy, both of which happened under mysterious circumstances after guard abuse, as well as an investigation into the ongoing problem of excessive use of force and deaths inside Eloy
2. Improved conditions, including adequate medical and mental health care
3. Access to legal resources and court hearings when requested
4. An end to the exploitation of detainees’ work
5. No more criminalization, detention, and deportations
“Eloy Detention Center Hunger Strike: Tucson Teen Demands to Speak to Her Father,” Tucson Weekly, June 16th, 2015
“BREAKING: Over 200 Immigrant Detainees Launch Hunger Strike at Eloy Detention Center,” Puente Movement, June 13th, 2015
Article Published: 10/9/2019
Header photo source: Tucson Weekly