El Paso Processing Center, El Paso, Texas
January 1, 2019 (exact start date unknown)
As many as 30 immigrant detainees at the ICE-operated facility went on hunger strike over the course of a month, with an unknown number remaining on strike and at least nine of them being force-fed. They are joined by 4 detainees on hunger strike at other ICE facilities in the U.S.–in Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco.
In mid-January, a federal judge issued court orders to begin force-feeding the strikers at the El Paso facility. The detainees have been placed in solitary confinement and have lost 40-50 pounds.
One of the strikers, an Indian man who is being identified only by his last name Singh, called The Associated Press on February 1 and described the process of being forced fed:
“They tie us on the force-feeding bed, and then they put a lot of liquid into the tubes, and the pressure is immense so we end up vomiting it out,” said Singh. “We can’t talk properly, and we can’t breathe properly. The pipe is not an easy process, but they try to push it down our noses and throats.”
According to the Associated Press, force-feeding of immigrant detainees on hunger strike is a new development. “Although the agency doesn’t keep statistics on this, attorneys, advocates and ICE staffers who AP spoke with did not recall a situation at an immigration detention site where it has come to this.”
“Ice force-feeds immigrants inside Texas detention center“, The Guardian, January 31, 2019.
“ICE confirms it is force-feeding detainees on hunger strike“, The Washington Post, February 2, 2019.
“APNewsBreak: Detainee on hunger strike details force-feeding“, AP News, February 3, 2019.