22 men at Krome Service Processing Center in West Miami-Dade County have been on hunger strike since July 25 after being misled about bond hearings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 6, 2015
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
MIAMI, FL – In a letter sent today to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida raised serious concerns regarding the treatment of 22 Sikh men who are on hunger strike at a South Florida immigration detention facility.
The 22 detainees, asylum-seekers from India, went on hunger strike when they learned that the judge who would hear their bond appeal, Judge Rex Ford at the Broward Transitional Center (BTC), does not grant bonds to individuals in their circumstances, even though other detainees in identical circumstances in the same jurisdiction are granted bond.
The men were then transferred to Krome Service Processing Center. Based on promises by ICE officials that they would receive a bond hearing at Krome, they ended the hunger strike. However, when the day of many of their bond hearings at Krome arrived, their cases were transferred back to BTC for removal hearings. Beginning on July 25, the men went back on hunger strike. Several of them have now been hospitalized and are being threatened with force-feeding and the use of the Baker Act.
“These men believe they have been willfully misled about their rights, and it seems like ICE officials have made things worse,” stated ACLU of Florida Staff Attorney Shalini Agarwal. “The situation is urgent because of these men’s rapidly deteriorating health. We are working to get to the bottom of this, especially in light of ICE allegedly responding unlawfully toward hunger-striking detainees in other immigration detention facilities.”
The ACLU of Florida also intends to file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties later today. From the letter sent to the ICE field office:
“The ACLU of Florida has serious concerns about these events, as the alleged actions by ICE suggest that the agency has jeopardized these men’s health by making false promises of a meaningful bond hearing. We are especially concerned because we have heard about other situations around the country in which ICE and ICE-contracted facilities are alleged to have responded unlawfully to hunger strikes by immigration detainees, in some instances retaliating against the detainees by placing them in solitary confinement, and in other situations inviting consular officials of the country from which they are seeking asylum to exert pressure on the detainees.
“We are gravely concerned by the facts alleged and write to get your account of what has happened.”
A copy of the letter is available here: http://aclufl.org/resources/letter-ice-hunger-strike-detainees-krome/