indica News Bureau-
Five Indian men, seeking asylum in the US, are protesting against their detention at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Jena, Louisiana by going for a hunger-strike has now lasted for more than 90 days.
According to a report in American Bazaar, each of the men — four Hindus and one Sikh — have formal sponsors in the US who have committed to housing and supporting them while they fight their asylum case.
Now advocates worry the men are on the brink of death.
The report said that the men coming from different parts of India have varied reasons for seeking asylum in the US, and their legal situations are also varied.
Advocates have filed an official complaint against ICE, condemning the organization for not providing the men with proper medical treatment during the strike. Two men have reportedly been force-fed – an act that multiple medical associations and human rights groups in the United States have said is inhumane and unethical.
Volunteer Michelle Graffeo from the San Francisco-based NGO, Freedom for Immigrants has been regularly visiting the men in the facility.
An immigrant said that he weighed 161lb before the strike and now weighs 116lb. All five men – who range from early 20s to mid-30s – are in wheelchairs because they are too weak to walk.
Freedom for Immigrants has filed complaints with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) on behalf of the five men, demanding the DHS address the systemic civil rights violations the five asylum seekers have faced in custody.
For people in immigration detention, participation in a hunger strike is a last resort. Under the Trump administration, ICE detention has grown from a daily average of 34,376 in 2016 to more than 50,000 in 2019. To accommodate this growth, ICE needed to open new facilities, many of which are concentrated in the Southeast. Many of these centers are run by private prison companies that profit daily from people’s incarceration.