ICE detainees call for closure of Kern County detention centers amid strike

McFARLAND, Calif. — As a hunger strike that began within two Kern County Immigration and Customs Enforcement services in mid-February carries on, detainees say they’re eager to put their life on the line to boost alleged inhumane circumstances within the centers.

Immigrants held at Mesa Verde ICE Processing Centre in Bakersfield and Golden Point out Annex in McFarland have prolonged complained about substandard problems within just the amenities. Their claimed concerns selection from spoiled food to the presence of black mold.

Extra than 80 starvation strikers are now pushing for ICE officials to close the for-earnings amenities operated by GEO Team, a non-public jail contractor. Detainees argue those who are not thought of flight or security threats should really be produced back into their communities although they fight civil immigration scenarios.

Sergio Marez has been detained inside the McFarland facility for 16 months. Irrespective of dropping 11 lbs considering the fact that the hunger strike started on Feb. 17, Marez says he’s not deterred.

“I’m not heading to stop until eventually ICE listens to what we’re expressing or my overall body cannot get it anymore,” he told KVPR by mobile phone.


Sister Marie Francis Schroepfer of the Catholic Diocese of Fresno speaks in guidance of immigrants becoming detained at the Golden Condition Annex in McFarland.

Past 7 days, five starvation strikers sued ICE and GEO for allegedly retaliating from them by turning off heating, limiting recreation and denying family visits.

“The folks detained in these horrific detention facilities have simple Initially Amendment legal rights to communicate out in opposition to their abuse,” civil legal rights lawyers symbolizing the gentlemen said in a assertion. “We will do all the things achievable to protect their constitutional proper to peacefully protest the injustice of their detention.”

ICE acknowledges the existence of a hunger strike but denies retaliating versus detainees. In a assertion to KQED, the agency said hunger strikers’ Very first Modification rights will be honored.

“ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all these in the agency’s custody, such as giving access to vital and correct medical care,” an ICE spokesperson said.

The starvation strike comes on the heels of an ongoing, 10-month labor strike. Detainees protested a $1 day-to-day wage for performing eight-hour janitorial shifts and other jobs. Detainees argue the function quantities to “slave labor.”

A federal complaint says GEO coerced detainees who withheld labor by placing them in solitary confinement. CAL/OSHA, the state’s place of work basic safety agency, regarded the detainees as employees and fined GEO just around $100,000 for unsafe doing work situations.

GEO has denied the allegations and is attractive the state’s choice.


A demonstrator holds a indicator that reads “#Secure Your People” outside the Golden Point out Annex ICE detention heart in McFarland.

In a assertion, the hunger strikers mentioned they had been served expired foods, can not afford to pay for commissary merchandise and acquire inadequate health care focus. They stated they are emotionally affected by the strict visitation guidelines.

“Our prolonged detention is pointless and inhumane, and we demand from customers our collective launch,” the strikers wrote in a statement

On Sunday, demonstrators rallied outside the house the Golden Condition Annex, just off Freeway 99 in McFarland. Chants of “Libertad” and “Sí, se puede” crammed the air.

Rosa Lopez, a policy advocate with the ACLU of Southern California, mentioned demonstrators have been supporting the detainees in working out their suitable to protest by means of a starvation strike.

“These [detention centers] are not the types of investments that we require in our local community,” she said.

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