indica News Bureau-
The attorney for an Indian-origin asylum seeker on a hunger strike in an immigrant detention center in Texas says the man has been force-fed fluid through IV drips, according to published reports.
Linda Corchado said last week the 35-year-old asylum was brought to meet her in a wheelchair with tubes in his nose and told her he had been force-fed.
“He says it was terribly painful and it was an awful experience. Even as I was talking to him, he kept grimacing,” Corchado said, according to KTLA 5 News.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment, referring questions to the U.S. Attorney in West Texas, where a spokesman said he couldn’t confirm or deny force-feeding of immigrant detainees who protest by refusing to eat was underway at the El Paso Processing Center, KTLA reported. A court supervisor said that any cases involving non-consensual feeding are under seal. In response to past force-feedings of other detainees who stopped eating to protest their confinement, ICE has said it is “committed to preserving the lives of those in its custody.,” according to KTLA.com
The Indian-origin man told The Associated Press he would rather starve to death in the US detention facility than be deported to India, where he fears for his life because of his political activism. The man’s father was murdered for his political work, and his sister attacked with acid, according to published reports.
According to Corchado, the man’s force-feeding began Aug. 15 followed by another round the following day. The man said he was strapped to a bed and force-fed by a group of people while other detainees looked on, she said.
“This country is now torturing him, and as far as he is concerned, he is still paying the price because he still wants to live here,” Corchado said, according to KTLA.
An online petition ay CredoAction.com is calling on the House Committees on Homeland Security, the Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform to release the hunger strikers and investigate reports of abuse.
“ICE is threatening to torture Indian asylum seekers who have been on a hunger strike for more than 14 days demanding their freedom,” the petition reads. “They are putting their bodies on the line to protest their prolonged detention and denial of bond.”
“Because the government denies South Asians bond hearings at higher rates than other asylum seekers, they serve longer sentences in detention and have a history of using hunger strikes to shine a light on this injustice.,” the petition says. “Their protest speaks to the pain and the systemic injustices that happen to immigrants detained in the United States.”
Immigrants who go on hunger strikes are often moved to ICE’s El Paso Processing Center to be fed against their will, in part because medical personnel there can perform the procedure, threading tubed through the nostrils and down the throat to force a nutrient-rich liquid into their stomachs, according to reports.
ICE has confirmed detainee hunger strikes at its facilities in El Paso and Otero County (New Mexico) Processing Center two weeks ago but didn’t comment on the claims of forced hydration or force-feeding.
Three weeks ago, the Justice Department filed documents with federal judges related to non-consensual hydration or feeding for four men, according to a court official. Soon after, Corchado’s said her clients, three Indian-origin asylum seekers in the third week of a hunger strike, were forced to receive IV drips at the El Paso center, KTLA reported.
The detainees are trying to appeal or reopen asylum claims that were denied, the attorney said.
In January, nine men were force-fed at the El Paso facility.
In November 2018 a group of detainees housed in the Otero center went on a hunger strike for several days. Some of those detainees began another hunger strike in December and January.
The detainees on hunger strike don’t want to be returned to their countries of origin, a decision that is ultimately rendered by an immigration judge. The El Paso center is an ICE facility. The Otero County (New Mexico) Processing Center is a contract facility that operates under an intergovernmental service agreement.