A federal judge has ordered the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to force-feed nine immigrant detainees on a hunger strike in an El Paso facility, a new report claims.
The report from the Washington Post said that the judge ordered the detainees to be fed against their will. A previous report claimed that 10 people had gone on hunger strike against what they claimed was “rampant verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards” inside the detention facility.
The organization released a statement about the ruling, saying the forced feedings were not retaliation against the immigrants for their protest.
“ICE does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers,” the statement read. “ICE explains the negative health effects of not eating to our detainees. For their health and safety, ICE closely monitors the food and water intake of those detainees identified as being on a hunger strike.”
The report comes as the Trump administration faces continued criticism for its policies toward detained immigrants. This week, the administration admitted that more child immigrants might have been separated from their parents than originally disclosed — by some estimates, thousands more. The children were taken from parents under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which drew worldwide criticism and ultimately forced Trump to publicly reverse the policy last year. Still, many of the children remained separated from their parents, as the administration did not have information on where many were taken or where their parents ended up.
As ABC News reported, an internal government report showed that thousands more children may have been separated than originally known and that there was a “steep increase” of separations in the summer of 2017, a full year before then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly announced the “zero-tolerance” policy. The report also found that there was no tracking system in place to find out where the children ended up, leaving many of them to be lost to the system.
An ICE spokeswoman confirmed to the Washington Post that the agency has been ordered by a federal judge to feed and hydrate nine detainees on hunger strike at an El Paso detention center against their consent. https://t.co/fvMRRMwunK
— Axios (@axios) February 2, 2019
The report resulted in backlash against the Trump administration, for a policy that critics say was purposely punitive toward immigrants, including those who had crossed the U.S. border legally while seeking asylum.
“The Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them. The administration also doesn’t dispute that separations are ongoing in significant numbers. We will be back in court on February 21,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, wrote in a lawsuit against the Trump administration.