ICE Detainees on Hunger Strike: ‘We’d Rather Die’ than Be Deported

Iraqi Detainee Protest
AP File Photo: Carlos Osorio

Iraqi immigrants being detained in an immigration facility in Detroit, Michigan, said they would rather die here than be deported to their native country. Seven Iraqi detainees began a hunger strike on Friday to protest their pending deportation.

The seven Iraqi detainees were part of a group of nearly 114 Iraqi immigrants rounded up in the Detroit area by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers over the summer. In June, a federal judge temporarily blocked the removal of the Iraqi immigrants, but the Iraqis remain in detention. ICE officials said the arrested Iraqis have criminal records in the U.S. for homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, and a host of other crimes.

ICE officials placed the seven Iraqi hunger strikers under medical supervision. Following that move, seven additional detainees joined the hunger strike effort, the Detroit News reported.

“They continue to be offered three meals daily and provided an adequate supply of drinking water or other beverages,” ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls told the local newspaper. “Several other detainees have been randomly refusing the facility’s prepared meals over the last several days and are being monitored by facility staff.”

ICE protocols for hunger strike call for protesting detainees to be placed under close medical supervision, observation, and monitoring, as long as they remain on the strike.

“The number of individuals participating in the strike can fluctuate at any time as facility staff witnesses detainees ending their hunger strike or reaching the 72-hour threshold,” Walls explained.

A volunteer worker for Code Legal Aid, Crystal Jabiro, told reporters that one of the detainees called her on Monday to let her know of their plans to strike.

“They’d rather die in the facility close to their families, rather than in their own country because they believe U.S. is their home,” Jabiro said. “For a lot of them, their 90-day review came. From what I heard from these inmates, a lot got letters saying they will be detained for another 90 days.”

She did not address the issue of crimes committed by the detainees.

Rana Elmir, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, told the Detroit News,

“In addition, the facility has put all who are on hunger strike on lockdown. There are also reports that all petitioners are on lockdown whether they are participating in the strike or not.”

“They are risking their own lives as a way to try to reunite with their families,” Elmir stated.

Other immigration-related hunger strikes fell flat when the immigrants ended their protest after only three days, Breitbart Texas reported in April. Nearly 750 detainees at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, reportedly refused their meals; nearly half of the 1,500 inmate capacity of the detention center. The hunger strike began earlier in the week on April 10 when some of the male detainees refused their lunches.

Breitbart Texas reported in mid-April that more than 60,000 illegal aliens that were housed in a Colorado detention center sued the federal contractor who operates the detention center. They allege the facility compelled “forced labor” in violation of federal human trafficking laws and are seeking money damages and restitution.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGab, and Facebook.

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