A judge’s order to force-feed hunger striking detainees at the Krome detention center has drawn the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
The order was issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr.
The 11 detainees — 10 Pakistani and one Armenian — began their hunger strike 28 days ago, although as of Friday only one detainee was still refusing to consume food, according to a statement from South Florida Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
All the men arrived at various border stations as asylum seekers.
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Under ICE procedures, asylum seekers can be eligible for bond while they await a hearing to determine if they are to be granted asylum. Primarily, they are held at Krome, but they can be transferred to the Broward Transitional Center and the Monroe County Jail.
To make bond or parole, detainees must prove a credible fear of persecution and confirm their identities with primary documents (such as licenses and birth certificates) or affidavits. Affidavits of support, showing that the detainees have someone to live with while they wait for their asylum hearing, bolster the case.
The ACLU of Florida alleges that at least one detainee who had all the necessary paperwork was denied bond for no reason, undermining ICE policy.
“The inconsistency in those determinations is leading to these frustrations,” said Shalini Goel Agarwal, staff attorney for ACLU Florida. The detainees feel "there’s no way to draw attention to the unfair treatment other than hunger strikes.”
Other than the statement, ICE declined to comment and routed all questions on adjudication of asylum seekers to the executive office of immigration review, part of the Justice Department.
The ACLU has filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, alleging that ICE punished the hunger strikers by repeatedly transferring them from Krome to BCE to the Monroe Count Jail while they were in a fragile medical condition.
In a hearing Thursday, Agarwal said that five men were told the judge would be issuing the force-feed order. When two men said they would eat they were dismissed from the case. The remaining three received the order for intravenous or nasal feeding.
Friday evening ICE released a statement listing only one unnamed detainee as the sole hunger striker.This hunger strike follows another in the same detention facility last month. Twenty-two Sikh men went on a hunger strike for two weeks to protest what they believe was excessive transferring and delayed bond hearings. They have since been released on bond.
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