EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Migrants at a second U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holding facility are saying they’re on a hunger strike to protest prolonged detention and alleged unsanitary conditions.
In an open letter disseminated by immigration advocates this week, detainees at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico, said they were striking and detailed why. The advocates said the hunger strike began on Oct. 18 with 20 detainees and has now grown to include 25.
“The majority of the detainees have languished for many months detained here without justification by ICE. These people have committed no crimes and present no danger to American society. They are seeking asylum and although they have legal sponsors, family ties and somewhere to live, they are denied their rights to release on parole, bond,” the letter states.
The group of all-male detainees is demanding their own release and an end to alleged discriminatory practices.
In September, detainees at the Torrance County Detention Facility also said they were on hunger strike. But CoreCivic, the contractor that runs both Torrance and Cibola, again refuted claims of a hunger strike.
“The situations described […] regarding our Cibola County Correctional Center are neither accurate nor reflective of our policies, procedures or values. As of November 16, there has been no hunger strike at (Cibola),” said Ryan Gustin, director of public affairs for CoreCivic.
Federal officials also told Border Report on Thursday said they have no knowledge of a hunger strike at the Cibola facility. ICE’s Office of Detention Oversight in June published a report stating Cibola was in compliance with 16 of 17 required standards, including medical care.
But migrant advocacy groups who disseminated the Cibola detainee allegations insist “inhumane conditions” and alleged abuse are rampant at detention facilities.
“It has been repeatedly reported by survivors of detention that human rights abuses run rampant at Cibola,” Las Americas said in a statement Thursday. “Earlier this year, several high-risk detained persons have spoken up about the medical neglect and discrimination suffered. […] It is clear that medical abuse, racism and immigration are intrinsically linked in this system and, if unresolved, they will have extreme adverse consequences.”
CoreCivic denies medical care at Cibola is substandard.
“All of our immigration facilities are monitored very closely by our government partners at ICE, and they’re required to undergo regular review and audit processes to ensure an appropriate standard of living for all detainees,” Gustin said. “Our staff are trained and held to the highest ethical standards. […] We vehemently deny any allegations of detainee mistreatment.”
Gustin said detainees who believe they have been mistreated can file a grievance.