Forcefed Detainees

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced that it has deported two detainees held at the El Paso Processing Center to India. SALDEF, a national Indian American civil rights organization, was part of a coalition of civil rights groups that had planned a Feb. 15 rally outside the El Paso Processing Center to bring attention to this issue. (representational image/John Moore/Getty Images)

Immigration officials say two Indian men who were force-fed through nasal tubes while on a hunger strike inside a Texas detention facility have been deported.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the two detainees held at the El Paso Processing Center were deported to India March 1.

ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said March 4 there are nine detainees from India, Nigeria, Turkey, Bissau-Guinea, Pakistan and Croatia who have been refusing to eat in detention centers in the El Paso, Atlanta, San Diego, Miami and Seattle areas of responsibility.

Earlier this year, federal judges authorized nose-to-stomach force-feeding of nine detainees in El Paso. In response, the United Nations human rights office said the U.S. could be violating the U.N. Convention Against Torture because it views force-feeding as potential “ill treatment.”

Reporting by The Associated Press revealed late last month that nine Indian men who were refusing food at a Texas detention facility were being force-fed through nasal tubes against their will.

On Feb. 21, all force-feeding at the detention center near the El Paso airport abruptly stopped after a U.S. district judge said the government had to stop involuntarily feeding two of the detained immigrants.

A group of 49 lawmakers are calling for the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General to investigate on-site conditions of ICE facilities and the policies surrounding the involuntary force-feeding of immigrant detainees.

“We implore you to exercise your oversight responsibilities to make improving conditions at immigration detention facilities a top priority for ICE and ensure the humane treatment of detainees in federal custody,” said the letter spearheaded by Oregon Democratic Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Texas Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar, who toured the El Paso Processing Center and met with the men after the initial reports of the force-feeding. “These complaints reveal unequivocal abuses of power that violate the rights of detainees.”

Detained immigrants have sporadically staged hunger strikes around the country for years, protesting conditions they face while seeking asylum.

ICE said that 13 immigrants from Cuba, India, Mexico and Nigeria held in detention facilities nationwide were refusing food, but none were being force-fed. That included 10 detainees at the El Paso Processing Center, one at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, one at the Krome Service Processing Center in Florida, and one at the Central Arizona Correctional Center.

India-West Staff Reporter adds: In an earlier India-West story (see here: https://bit.ly/2U49IC9),

SALDEF, a national civil rights, advocacy, and educational organization who mission is to empower Sikh Indian Americans by building dialogue, deepening understanding, promoting civic and political participation, said it was part of a coalition of civil rights groups that had planned a Feb. 15 rally outside the El Paso Processing Center to bring attention to this issue.

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