Immigrants and their advocates continue to deal with the Trump administration’s harsh stance towards their very existence, and in recent days in Louisiana, dozens of asylum seekers have adopted a new stance to confront their treatment — a hunger strike. At the River Correctional Center in Louisiana, where hundreds of hopeful immigrants are being held, two dozen people have consistently denied meals since last week in protest of their cases being pushed to the side. They’ve been unable to procure bond while their asylum cases wind their way through the court system, and therefore remain among the many immigrants who the Trump administration has detained.
The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice’s Rachel Taber explained to the Associated Press after meeting with the protesting immigrants:
‘It’s a charade of due process. Their perception is that this will not be a real justice or a real court process.’
The Louisiana hunger strike began with some 150 people joining up, but only the about two dozen mentioned have continued through to this weekend. The effort follows a similar protest demonstration in El Paso where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ended up force feeding strikers after obtaining a court order. That case included nine immigrants from India who were being administered sustenance through a nasal tube, which the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights suggested could violate international standards against torture.
The force-feeding eventually stopped in mid-February, at which time there remained a full dozen hunger strikers, including three individuals from Cuba in addition to the Indians, who were together protesting the “length and conditions” of their detention according to NPR.
In the same area, imagery of immigrants housed in chain link enclosures under a highway overpass drew widespread recent attention. Authorities blamed a lack of available other space to house the individuals, as they continue to deal with a surge in asylum seekers.
President Donald Trump has responded to the immigration by casting the individuals seeking refuge as a threat to the United States, threatening to close the southern border entirely this coming week unless Mexico put a stop to it. To be clear, Mexican authorities are not responsible for the immigration. Contrary to Trump’s past assertions, they have not actively sought to funnel people into the United States, and they have not turned a blind eye to the issue, either, themselves detaining large numbers of people and even acquiescing to a Trump administration demand for them to house some asylum seekers there while their claims are processed.
No matter the realities of the situation, Trump has remained steadfast in his antagonism. Last year, putting him in direct opposition to the Louisiana hunger strikers, he asserted that “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came” — without even the chance to have their case heard, let alone have it heard out fairly.
Pressed by the Associated Press, the Executive Office of Immigration Review said it “didn’t have statistics readily available” covering how successful asylum seekers in area court actually are in their efforts to be granted bond.
Featured Image via screenshot