Almost 100 immigrant women are now involved in a hunger strike in a detention center in Hutto, Texas, protesting living conditions, their continued detainment, and a lack of access to medical conditions. The detainees also claim that they face threats and unjustified surveillance by officers in the facility.
The strike was started at the end of October by 27 women, and with the ranks having swelled they are taking it in turns to strike between the separate pavilions in the detention center.
Most of them, according to Grassroots Leadership member Cristina Parker, are being detained as they wait for their asylum cases to be heard. If their requests are denied, they are likely to be deported. Grassroots Leadership is an organization trying to advocate for change in this practice and abolish privately-owned, for-profit prisons and detention centers across America.
These hunger strikes go hand in hand with others started at detention centers in El Paso, Texas; La Salle, Louisiana and Adelanto, California. Unrest amongst detainees in the United States has been growing, with more and more of those who are incarcerated awaiting asylum cases starting to protest their living conditions, which are leading to mental health issues like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rocio Villalobos of Texas United Families, a pro-immigrant rights group, said of the issue: “instead of punishing these women who are seeking asylum in the U.S. and who have been detained for over six months, ICE must release them and allow them to continue with the process from their homes, with their families.” The group has also started a campaign asking for the release of several of the women involved with the strike, who have been removed by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from Hutto to other detention centers in the state.
According to Cristina Parker, most of the immigrant women are from Central America – countries like Mexico and Honduras – which is a direct response to the surge in asylum-seekers from these countries trying to flee their home countries out of fear for their safety. The reaction to this, Parker says, is “putting them in a prison for profit that cuts corners, that serves bad food, that neglects people’s medical care and needs. This is the system that these women are exposing, and they’re doing so, so bravely.”
If you would like legal consultation or know someone who is being detained while waiting for a decision regarding asylum and would like more information, please get in touch with Lyttle Law Firm. You can send an enquiry either through the website or by calling 512-215-5225.