#Not1More Deportation

South Asian Asylum Seekers on Hunger Strike Demand End to Deportations, Improved Treatment in Detention

On October 14 Fifty four South Asian detainees from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan detained at the El Paso Detention Center started a hunger strike. They lasted 7 days without food or water, demanding an end to deportations and an investigation into allegations of mistreatment and medical neglect.

By mid-October, another 9 asylum seekers declared a hunger strike, this time at the La Salle Detention Center in Louisiana.

The hunger strike at La Salle detention center began after some of the detainees were transferred from El Paso to La Salle Detention Center in Louisiana. Both hunger strikes have been organized by south asian asylum seekers who have been held in detention for 9 to 11 months. In both cases, ICE has responded with intimidation tactics, including placing leaders in solitary confinement and threatening the detainees with immediate deportation.

Please join DRUM in continued support of detainees who are organizing for their rights, and sign the petition to urge the New Orleans ICE office to stop retaliating against the hunger strikers and release them from detention.

Read more about the El Paso Hunger Strike

All of the detainees at the El Paso Hunger Strike were asylum seekers who had passed their credible fear interviews and been given a “parole notification” – meaning that they had been interviewed by an immigration agent who determined they face legitimate threats if deported, and that ICE should have released them.

Instead, some ahd been held in detention 9-11 months, and recently, at least 33 detainees have had this parole notification and credible fear findings revoked. One asylum seeker was already deported despite the fact that he faces life threatening danger in Bangladesh.

After the hunger strike began, officials have tried to isolate the strikers, and continue to target, isolate and intimidate specific individuals.

The demands of the detainees were:

  1. DHS must stop their deportations and investigate the allegations below
  2. DOJ and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) must investigate whether these individuals were given a fair and full hearing, including access to interpretation that they could understand, access to their own documents and decisions in their cases
  3. DHS must release asylum seekers from detentio​n​
  4. Transfer these individuals to detention facilities that are closer to their families
  5. Stop the disparate treatment of South Asian immigrants detained in DHS facilities and ensure that these individuals are being provided with interpreters
  6. DHS must provide adequate access to basic medical care and provide interpretation services.The hunger strike was sparked by the deportation of one of the men, but the demands are based on their experience and treatment during the time that they have been at the detention center.

The hunger strikers report that:

  • There is harsh treatment of South Asian detainees
  • Many of the detainees are being forced to sign travel documents, and when they refuse to sign, they have transferred them to other facilities or threatened them with 4-10 years in prison
  • ​T​here is no access to adequate medical care, and detainees are told to “drink water” when they complain of health issue​s
  • There are no interpreters at the court during their immigration proceedings, and some have reported hostility from the immigration judge, one person remembering the judge saying that there was too much money being spent on them, and that their deportation would help the U.S. save resources.
  • Their requests to be moved closer to family have been ignored.

Additionally, hunger strikers reported to advocates that credible fear approvals and parole have been revoked based on their affiliation to a conservative political party, the Bangladesh National Party. DHS automatically classifies all BNP members as national security threats, making them ineligible for asylum.

Moreover, we are very concerned that critical legal papers are not given to these asylum seekers, making it impossible for them to file their appeals on time. Most of them have already missed their deadlines because they did not have their documents on them.

During the hunger strike, 11 of the men were released. The others are still fighting their cases but ended the hunger strike on October 21, 2015.

Follow DRUM’s Facebook feed for up to the moment updates.

Please join DRUM- South Asian Organizing Center and the #Not1More campaign in supporting the asylum seekers on hunger stirke by signing the petition below.

See message in support of hunger strikers

I am writing in support of the detainees that are currently on hunger strike at the La Salle Detention Center in Louisiana seeking to get a fair hearing for their case and for decent, livable conditions while they are detained.

I urge you consider their requests, including that:

ICE should stop their deportations and allow a fair hearing for their cases

Release asylum seekers from detention

Allow people who remain detained to be transferred to detention facilities that are closer to their families

Have access to interpretation

A stop to disparate treatment of South Asian detainees

Adequate access to basic medical care

I am aware that the asylum seekers whose credible fear and parole has been revoked have been told that it is due to their affiliation to the Bangladesh National Party. A conservative political party, it is being wrongfully categorized as a terrorist organization, making them ineligible for asylum. The detainees have not received copies of the immigration judge’s order, which has not allowed them to try to correct the error and seek appeal.

Thank you,