22 Sikh asylum seekers had been on hunger strike since July 25; 9 have obtained bond, 13 now awaiting bond; ACLU of Florida sent letter to ICE warning about their treatment

ACLU of Florida Media Office, media@aclufl.org, (786) 363-2737

MIAMI, FL – After a 14-day hunger strike protesting unfair practices by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a South Florida immigration detention facility, 9 Sikh asylum seekers have been granted bond to allow them to fight their asylum cases while out of detention.

The 9 men are part of a group of 22 Sikh asylum seekers from India who went on hunger strike on July 25 to protest ICE’s decision to deny them bond and Immigration Judge Rex Ford’s policy of refusing to grant bond to immigration detainees without family members in the United States. The remaining 13 detainees have not yet been granted bond, although ICE has allegedly assured them that they will be granted bond once they provide sufficient documentation of identity. They remain on hunger strike, which is now on day 18.

“Things should never have reached this extreme point,” stated ACLU of Florida staff attorney Shalini Agarwal. “ICE needs to honor immigration enforcement priorities enumerated by the Department of Homeland Security and use its prosecutorial discretion to not detain asylum seekers without bond, especially where they have demonstrated credible fear of persecution if returned to their home countries. Their granting of bond to some of these men is an important step, but there are many more detainees like them who shouldn’t be kept behind bars while their asylum proceedings are underway.”

The hunger strike and denial of bond also concerned attorneys at Americans for Immigrant Justice, which monitors detainees’ treatment at ICE detention facilities.

“Americans for Immigrant Justice has become increasingly concerned about the prolonged detention of bona fide asylum seekers with no criminal history who are availing themselves of protection under our immigration laws,” stated Jessica Shulruff, Supervising Attorney, Detention and Immigration Programs, at Americans for Immigrant Justice.  “ICE routinely denies asylum seekers at Broward Transitional Center (BTC) bond or release from detention even though they pose no flight risk or danger to the community, resulting in serious humanitarian and economic costs.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida had sent a letter to the ICE field office and filed a complaint with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties last week raising serious concerns regarding the treatment of the hunger striking asylum seekers. The ACLU now urges ICE to quickly grant bond to the remaining asylum seekers still on hunger strike.

A copy of the letter is available here:  http://aclufl.org/resources/letter-ice-hunger-strike-detainees-krome/