Jena, Louisiana — Today, news broke of a hunger strike at the Central Louisiana ICE Processing Center with an estimated 300 people kicking off the strike by refusing their breakfast on Monday and demanding their release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility run by the second-largest private prison corporation, The GEO Group (GEO Group).
“On Monday night, I spoke with a striker who estimated that hundreds of detained folks across nine or ten units within the facility are participating in the hunger strike,” said Natalia Renta, Volunteer Attorney. “This hunger strike underscores ICE and GEO’s record of neglect and the urgent need to release people from ICE custody now.”
“Detained folks at the Central Louisiana ICE Processing Center are tired of the harrowing conditions inside, and have decided to participate in a hunger strike to demand an immediate improvement to the rampant neglect in this facility. Individuals deserve access to clean facilities that do not compromise their mental or physical health,” said Luba Cortes, Immigrant Defense Coordinator at Make the Road New York. “This is another example of why we should not be funneling millions of dollars to an agency that continues to violate the due process of detained individuals, and has no oversight.”
People on hunger strike at the Central Louisiana ICE Processing Center are demanding:
- Immediate release from detention
- Provision of personal hygiene necessities, specifically toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
- Access to proper disinfectants and clean facilities.
- Transparency from ICE regarding individual cases, including case status, future court dates, and release requests
The Central Louisiana ICE Processing Center is operated by GEO Group, a notorious private prison company that has a well-documented track record of abuse, mismanagement and neglect. According to people detained at the facility, the Central Louisiana ICE Processing Center has fallen behind in providing a clean and safe living space. The showers are currently covered in mold, and running water has a “green tint.” The facility is also lacking in cleaning supplies to maintain clean rooms and bathrooms, which by default is exposing detained people to potentially deadly infections and viruses.
“Hunger strikers are courageous individuals putting their lives on the line to protest and draw attention to the inhumane and unjust nature of immigration detention,” said Homero López, Jr., Legal Director of ISLA. “These organized protests are not taken on lightly and are intended to demonstrate the urgent need for all people to be released from detention now.”
“Hunger strikers’ demands underscore well-documented issues endemic to the detention system, including: abusive treatment by ICE, deplorable conditions, fatal medical neglect and a lack of due process rights,” said Marcela Hernández, Organizing and Membership Director at Detention Watch Network. “Biden must act urgently to immediately release people from detention, cut detention contracts and shut down facilities permanently.”
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 detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.