Originally published by SCPR
Half a dozen men from Central America who supporters say are seeking asylum are refusing meals at an immigrant detention facility in Adelanto, federal officials confirmed Tuesday.
Immigrant advocates say the men are protesting what they call poor living conditions, bond amounts for release that they say are too high, and slow progress on their legal cases.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said nine men refused to return to their assigned beds Monday morning for a head count and instead locked arms. After a confrontation, guards pepper-sprayed them and put them in high-security cells, away from the general population of detainees.
Immigrant advocates said the men were beaten by guards during the confrontation. ICE officials said in an emailed statement to KPCC that officers “applied the necessary degree of force to extract the resisting detainees from the residence unit and transfer them to a restricted housing area,” but they were not beaten.
Officials said none of the detainees or guards were injured.
Eight of the men refused food after the Monday incident, according to ICE. As of Tuesday, six were still refusing meals. Officials said the men will be subject to required monitoring after 72 hours without food, including close medical supervision.
The six who are refusing meals are from Central America. Immigrant advocates said the men are seeking asylum.
According to the advocates, seven of the nine men involved in the Monday confrontation were part of a “caravan” of migrants who traveled from the Guatemalan border through Mexico, supported by activists along the way.
Tristan Call, an immigrant right activist based in Tennessee, said he met the caravan in Mexico. About 100 migrants from the group then arrived at the border in May, he said. Many were held for detention and were sent to different facilities, including to the one in Adelanto.
Call said the Adelanto hunger strikers contacted him the past weekend with a list of demands, which he transcribed and posted online.
According to their list, the hunger strikers are upset about bonds for release set at “impossibly high levels,” “bad food” and “incompetence of medical staff,” among other grievances.
Read more: www.scpr.org/news/2017/06/13/72892/detainees-start-hunger-strike-at-adelanto-immigran/