Detained Mothers Host Hunger Strike in Texas Detention Center
Roughly 40 mothers are conducting a hunger strike at The Karnes Family Detention Camp, in Karnes City, Texas, during Holy Week to protest the detainment of their children as they await their asylum and immigration hearings, according to advocates.
The mothers arrived to the U.S. from numerous South American nations seeking shelter, and many believe that they, and their children, are being treated like prisoners.
Initially, close to 100 women signed a petition to take part in the hunger strike. However, women receded after at least two women were reportedly placed into isolation and their children placed into the detention center's clinic, according to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a community organization that offers free legal services to underserved immigrants. Also, the organization reported that mothers were also allegedly threatened with custody loss for participation.
According to reports, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials claimed that they were unaware of detainees submitting to a hunger strike. Also, ICE is reportedly monitoring the situation to access any potential health and safety issues. And they're investigating claims that the mothers were prompted by a nonprofit group to stop consuming food to protest their detention.
Nina Pruneda, an ICE spokeswoman, asserted in a statement that ICE respects the rights of all people to "voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so."
Thousands of immigrants, many women and children, have been held at family detention centers. And Karnes Detention Camp is one of three facilities set up to house mothers and children in the United States. The government has increased efforts to set up facilities that keep mothers and children together as they are evicted from the country after arriving to the nation illegally. Advocates are adamant that families with legitimate asylum claims should not be held in detention centers, but government agencies are just as persistent that undocumented immigrants should be captured, held and returned to their home nations.
ICE officials insist that the residential centers treat residents humanly, but certain reports suggest otherwise. Some women in Karnes have made claims stating that trauma of being detained has affected the mental state of them and their children; the food is not culturally appropriate -- so many do not eat; and people are held there for months.
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