April 22, 2009
Contact: Elizabeth Garcia (TX) 956-459-3205
Manisha Vaze (NY) 917-748-0938
For Immediate Release – Developing Story
Port Isabel Detention Center Detainees Engaged in Non-Violent Hunger Strike
Organizations in Texas and New York stand in solidarity with protesters!
Los Fresnos, TX: Today, 200 detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC) began a passive resistance movement with an organized hunger strike to protest physical and verbal mistreatment they face at the facility. Over the last few months, inmates have made many complaints to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and facility operators Ahtna Technical Services Incorporated (ATSI), but the continued deplorable conditions has pushed detainees to engage in non-violent protest.
Detainees have stated that they face violations to their due process rights, do not receive adequate medical attention, and have experienced physical and verbal abuse from ICE and ATSI officers.
Organizations in Texas and New York are standing in solidarity with protesters, as many have received complaints from detainees and family members about conditions at PIDC since early this year. “We've heard of detainees being denied food, beaten and shackled as retaliation for speaking up about inadequate conditions. Many of the detainees are legal permanent residents from northeastern cities [and] they've been shipped to this desolate prison away from any kind of family and community support. ATSI staff is being very brazen in their lawlessness. I think there's a perception that no one will speak up in defense of immigrants. It all seems designed to break down the will of the detainees so that they will agree to being deported,” remarked Maria Muentes, an organizer from Families for Freedom in New York City.
Mark Bevans, whose brother is being detained there, said, “My brother was physically abused there and was refused medical care until his consulate was notified and advocated for him to receive the attention he needed. He is from New York, and they took him away from all his resources. They are not giving him a fighting chance to get out by putting him all the way down there. It’s hard.”
Catherine Yee, a loved one of a detainee, said, "The point of this hunger strike is to let the media and the community know that the detainees' rights are really being violated. My boyfriend has been there for over 180 days and they cannot deport him since the country where he was born does not recognize him as their national. He is thousands of miles away from his home and attorney in Boston, and he is not getting medical care."
Organizers and family members of the Coalition of Amigos in Solidarity and Action, the Southwest Worker’s Union, and Families for Freedom stand in solidarity with detainees at the facility and their families and further demand full and proper investigations into the alleged human and civil rights abuses detainees are currently facing and accountability from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Ahtna Technical Services Incorporated for their ongoing inability to resolve this issue.
Families for Freedom
3 W 29th St. #1030
New York, NY 10001
ph: (646) 290-5551
fax: (800) 895-4454