Hunger strikes spreading at U.S. immigration lockups

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Immigrant advocates say that hundreds of men – perhaps more than 300 – stopped eating on October 30th to protest conditions at the center. Another group of men reportedly joined the hunger strike this week.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement won’t say if a hunger strike is taking place. But one unnamed official tells the Los Angeles Times that some detainees have stopped eating, and that ICE officials have met with them to hear their concerns.

In the past few weeks, hunger strikes by people caught crossing the border illegally have also been reported at detention centers in Texas and Louisiana.

The Department of Homeland Security has been coming under increasing pressure over its treatment of detained immigrants, many of them in privately run facilities.

This week, a report by the Chicago-based human rights group National Immigrant Justice Center found widespread abuses and substandard living conditions in immigrant lockups.

A judge in California ruled this summer that the Obama’s Administration’s long-term detainment of children and their mothers violated federal law, and he ordered the families to be released as soon as possible. Among other criticisms, the judge said some detention centers don’t meet the minimum standards for housing children.