Eight Detained Asylum Seekers Resume Hunger Strike at Adelanto Detention Center

Earlier on Thursday, Latino Rebels received the following release from the Immigrant Youth Coalition:

Victorville, CA — Eight detained asylum seekers, who were beaten and pepper-sprayed by guards as they began a hunger strike last Monday, have announced that they are relaunching their hunger strike on Thursday morning in the GEO Group-managed private prison Adelanto Detention Center. The asylum-seekers decided to resume the hunger strike after negotiations with ICE officials last week, in which the ICE negotiators lied about their agency’s role in keeping migrants detained with unreasonably high bonds. The hunger strike at Adelanto Detention Center resumes just three days after 35 women at the Northwest Detention Center began a hunger strike in a private immigration detention center also managed by The GEO Group, Inc. in Tacoma, Washington.

The Hunger Strikers’ central demands include:

1) Immediate release on our own recognizance (since we do not have the resources to pay inflated bond amounts).

2) Good faith negotiation from ICE, with our entire group of hunger strikers and a lawyer of our choosing present.
Isaac Lopez Castillo, a main spokesperson of the strikers in Adelanto, stated by telephone that “We are aiming to continue because we see that ICE lied to us, because with the bond issue, we believed that [what ICE told us] was true, that only a judge can decide, but now we realize that’s not true, that these bonds are given by ICE. ICE can do something to lower the bonds…they can parole us without bond. We feel that they tricked us, and we are going to continue because we aren’t anyone’s toys.” The hunger strikers’ demand to be released without bond challenges ICE’s policy of discretionary detention which dramatically ballooned the imprisoned immigrant population during the Obama and Trump administrations. According to US law, immigrants do not need to be detained pending administrative hearings. According to Tristan Call from Sureñxs En Acción, “ICE has increased long-term detention as an intimidation strategy intended to create such torturous conditions that immigrant detainees will abandon their legal cases and decide not to exercise their rights to due process.”

The #Adelanto8 hunger strikers plan to refuse meals for a minimum of 72 hours, after which they plan to release a statement and continue the strike if ICE has not met their demands. Anti-detention activists across the country are calling for detainees’ immediate release, and are planning a vigil outside the gates of the Adelanto Detention Center on Thursday and in front of the Los Angeles ICE office on Friday. In Tacoma, Washington, 35 detained women currently on hunger strike were joined by three civil society activists from NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC who began a solidarity fast on Tuesday in their encampment outside the gates of the Northwest Detention Center.

Adelanto Detention Center is an immigration detention center in Victorville, California, run by the private prison corporation GEO Group. Adelanto is infamous for poor medical care and recently became the “deadliest immigration detention center in the country”, after three detainee deaths since the beginning of 2017. The #Adelanto9 began their hunger strike on Monday June 12th, demanding political asylum and better detention conditions, after which GEO guards drenched the hunger strikers with pepper spray, beat them, handcuffed them, and transferred them to a higher-security area. Some of the strikers were slammed against walls and floors and one was beaten severely enough that a dental crown was knocked out. Afterwards, strike participants report that guards forced them to shower with hot water, which reacts with the pepper spray to greatly increase the pain, while they were humiliated and insulted by prison staff. The hunger strikers informed supporters that ICE and GEO subsequently admitted culpability for the attack, and promised that the guards and officials responsible would be investigated and punished.

The #Adelanto8are part of a caravan of refugees that traveled through Mexico, organizing other refugees along the migrant trails and train lines during Holy Week, culminating in a mass convergence in Tijuana, Mexico on May 9th of this year to seek asylum in the United States. Last Wednesday, a group of 33 women detained in Adelanto also participated in a one-day hunger strike, demanding improved medical care, lower bonds, respectful treatment by staff, and immediate release.

The group also shared this video:

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