Hunger Strike at Stewart Detention Center, Georgia in Response to COVID-19

Hunger Strike at Stewart Detention Center, Georgia in Response to COVID-19

Stewart Detention Center, Lumpkin, Georgia
March 26, 2020

At least 350 immigrants detained at the for-profit Stewart Detention Center held a hunger strike demanding their immediate release

One striker, who was quoted by Democracy Now!, described the reasons for the protest, saying, “We are frustrated because of the uncertainty, because we don’t know in which moment we can be infected with this virus by people who are coming in here from the outside. We could be infected at any moment — when we go outside, when we go to the yard, when we go eat. We are constantly at risk of infection. So this hunger strike is to demand ICE that, out of humanity, they give us our freedom.”

Siembra, a North Carolina based immigrant advocacy group, quoted a hunger striker, Ventura Quintanar-Rico, 32, of Mexico, in their press release. Quintanar-Rico stated, “We’re just waiting to get infected!!” said . “They’re not taking the most basic coronavirus precautions at this place. If one of us gets infected, all of us will, we are not able to stay 6 ft apart from each other, we share space with 62 other people. We don’t want to die here and it usually takes 3-4 days to get medical attention here.”

Guards pepper sprayed the strikers in what the Daily Mail described as “clashes”.


As Coronavirus Spreads Worldwide, Advocates Call For Release Of Detainees At Ga. Immigration Center“, NPR, March 26, 2020.

We’re just waiting to get infected!” Immigrants in Georgia ICE detention center sound the alarm, demand immediate release as state becomes epicenter of COVID-19 crisis in Southeast“, Siembra, NC, March 26, 2020.

Headlines March 27, 2020“, Democracy Now!

Immigrants held at ICE detention facility go on hunger strike, hit with pepper spray in clashes with jail officers, as they demand safer conditions against the coronavirus“, Daily Mail, March 27, 2020.

Protests, Hunger Strikes Erupt Over Coronavirus in Immigration Detention“, The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2020.

Detainees in US immigration jails living in fear as coronavirus spreads“, The Guardian, March 29, 2020.


Article published: 3/29/2020

Header photo source: Democracy Now!