110 South Asian immigrant detainees on hunger strike in US

About 110 people, including Indians and Bangladeshis, held at three immigration detention centers in the US are on hunger strike demanding an end to their indefinite confinement and improved conditions.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 28, 2015, 15:33 PM IST

Washington: About 110 people, including Indians and Bangladeshis, held at three immigration detention centers in the US are on hunger strike demanding an end to their indefinite confinement and improved conditions.

The strikes started on Wednesday at three immigration detention facilities - Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama, Theo Lacey Facility in Orange County, California, and Otay Detention Facility in San Diego, according to Vice News.

Majority of the detainees are Bangladeshi. They also include detainees from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Togo and elsewhere, it said.

The detainees are calling for an end to all detention and deportation, according to Fahd Ahmed, executive director of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), a New York-based organisation that advocates on behalf of South Asian immigrants.

They are also demanding the abolition of the so-called "bed quota," which requires immigration authorities to hold an average of 34,000 people in detention on any given day, he said.

All of the hunger strikers are said to be asylum seekers that have passed the "credible fear" stage of the asylum review process, the report said.

According to a 2010 Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy, asylum seekers with credible fear findings are supposed to be automatically considered for parole from detention.

Some of the hunger strikers have been held for two years.

The latest hunger strike was preceded by a similar action in October, when dozens of immigrant detainees in El Paso and Louisiana's La Salle facility refused meals for about 10 days.

According to a 2013 report by Detention Watch Network, the conditions at Etowah County Detention Centre, where about 48 people are on hunger strike, "are among the worst in country."

"Many of us even attempted to commit suicide for fearing of the government retribution if deported," an asylum-seeker who is being held at Etowah was quoted as saying in a press release about the hunger strike.