ICE Deports Two Hunger Strikers Detained in El Paso

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2019
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

El Paso, TX: Two of the #ElPaso9 hunger strikers were deported on Thursday, February 28th from the El Paso, TX Processing Center (EPPC). The two deported were among the Sikh men seeking asylum who have been on hunger strike, some for over 60 days.

Amrit Singh, the uncle of two of the men who remain detained in El Paso, was notified of the deportation early Thursday.

Immigrant and civil rights groups are deeply disturbed by this development. In early February, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), who represents the Congressional District where the El Paso Processing Center is located, requested independent psychological and medical assessments of the men after the doctor in the El Paso facility cleared the men on hunger strike for their deportation travel. ICE has neither acknowledged nor fulfilled the request. 

Nathan Craig of Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID) visited the El Paso Facility last Sunday and reported signs of rapidly deteriorating health among the detained asylum seekers. He said,“Some of the men were receiving glucose by IV. One of the men reported to us that IVs are inserted if their health condition deteriorates to the point that medical tests indicate that a large amount of proteins are spilled in their urine.”

The “El Paso 9” have been subject to intermittent and involuntary force-feeding and solitary confinement since January. The men were on hunger strike to protest the ongoing delay in hearing their cases and verbal and physical abuse by the guards. Some of the men are still on hunger strike.

On February 8th, 27 immigrant and civil rights groups sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen demanding the immediate release of the nine men on hunger strike and for an investigation into the facility. DHS has not responded to the letter. Advocates across the country have been calling the El Paso ICE field office all month to stop the deportations of the #ElPaso9, but it appears their phone lines have been either rerouted or disconnected.

Lakshmi Sridaran of SAALT said, We are outraged by this development. The men who were deported yesterday were in no physical condition to travel – much less to a country where their lives are already endangered. The inhumane treatment of individuals in detention facilities across the U.S. is unconscionable. The remaining individuals in the El Paso facility must be released immediately and given adequate medical attention.”

Jennifer Apodaca of Detained Migrant Solidarity Network said,Deportation continues to be used as a final and cruel form of retaliation by ICE to target individuals who have witnessed and speak out against abusive treatment and violation of civil rights. ICE continues its practice of evading accountability by deporting individuals to ensure that those with critical information are gone, essentially erasing evidence. We demand that all deportations be halted immediately until the full set of information is made public.


Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID) in the Chihuahuan Desert works to end the isolation of immigration detention. Our volunteers are from Las Cruces, El Paso, and surrounding communities. We visit and write to migrants who are detained in El Paso, Otero, and West Texas. avid.chihuahuan.org
Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC) is a community group based in El Paso, TX, that fights to free the border from the criminalization and mass incarceration of migrants. We aim to reach this goal through support services, organizing, and actions that promote more humane public policy and respect for migrants and other marginalized communities.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States.
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org.
Defending Rights & Dissent (DRAD) is a national civil liberty organization that strengthens our participatory democracy by protecting the right to political expression and working to make the promise of the Bill of Rights a reality for everyone.
Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM) organizes low income South Asian and Indo-Caribbean immigrants, workers, and youth in NYC for educational, immigrant, racial, worker, and gender justice.