At least 20 male immigrants, mainly from Central America, began a hunger strike at an adult immigration detention facility in California on Friday night, according to the advocacy group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). The hunger strike at the Adelanto Detention Facility is the fourth one launched by immigrant detainees across the nation in the past two weeks.
The Adelanto Detention Facility is run by the GEO Group, a private company that has a contract with the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to house federalimmigrant detainees. Both male and female detainees are held at the center, though in separate facilities. In July, the GEO Group announced that it would add 640 beds to increase the facility’s capacity to 1,940 beds.
In a three-page, hand-written note obtained by ThinkProgress, the hunger strikers call on the GEO Group staff to provide them with better medical and dental care, to offer better food, and to treat them with respect. The detainees say they should have clean, hot main course meals instead of slices of cold turkey. They also suggest that they should be able to lodge complaints with a grievance coordinator who does not work for the GEO corporation.
Adelanto has a long history of abuse allegations. In the past 15 months, there have been at least four incidences of extreme physical abuse by GEO staff, including a confirmed death and a miscarriage, according to a documentary released on Friday by CIVIC and Film Bliss Studios.
In the documentary, a former GEO Group officer criticized the facility for its “overcrowding conditions” and recounted seeing two Muslim men “get arrested and put in segregation for simply praying.” The officer said that GEO officers were “not trained for anything” and that he had to learn everything on his own.
There have been multiple hunger strikes at U.S. immigration detention facilities over the past several weeks. On October 14, ThinkProgress first reported that about 54 South Asian men refused food and water at the El Paso detention center in Texas. Five days later, 14 South Asian men joined in solidarity at the LaSalle Detention Center in Louisiana. On Wednesday, 27 women, mostly from Central America and Mexico, commenced a hunger strike at the T. Don Hutto Facility in Texas