Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Hunger Strike You Haven’t Heard About

By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, Think Progress
October 21, 2015

Bangladeshi asylum seekers ended a week-long hunger strike at the El Paso Processing Center in Texas this week after they protested their potential deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The strikers began to eat on Tuesday after ICE brought in the Bangladeshi Consul General to pressure the group to break their strike, according to the Bangladesh-based outlet News Next BD.

The hunger strike began on the morning of October 14, when 54 South Asian asylum seekers from Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan refused food and water at the El Paso detention center. Five days later, another 14 Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants began a solidarity hunger strike at the Lasalle Detention Center in Louisiana. It’s unclear whether non-Bangladeshi detainees have ended their strike at both facilities.

All of the men on hunger strike were approved for their credible fear findings, a preliminary step in the asylum review process. The ICE agency established policies in 2010 stating that asylum seekers who pass their credible fear interview should be automatically considered for parole from detention. Nonetheless, some of the hunger strikers have been held in immigration detention anywhere between nine months and two years, even though the average detention time hovers around 31 days.[...]

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