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.