STOP the Mistreatment of Punjabi-Detainees in El Paso

February 14th, 2019

El Paso, TX – Since late last December 2018, eleven detainees have been on and off a hunger strike in the El Paso Processing Center in Texas. The detainees went on their hunger strike to protest their treatment at the facilities. Rather than address the issues facing the detainees, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials began force-feeding nine Punjabis–detained asylum seekers–through nasal tubes and IVs. Six of these nine individuals have been force-fed since January.

It is imperative that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immediately release the individuals engaged in these hunger strikes to ensure their well-being, safety, and protection of their due process rights.

The abuses associated with the force-feeding included two of the detained immigrants having their arms and legs tied chairs to facilitate force-feeding. The tubes stayed in their nasal passages 24/7, and because the tubes were too large, they caused nasal bleeding and pain. Many of the detained asylum seekers have wounds and lesions on their throats and nasal passages, are suffering from rectal bleeding, and bleeding while vomiting, persistent stomach pain, and are having difficulty speaking and breathing.

We are deeply concerned about their health and well-being at the hands of guards and medical staff at the El Paso Processing Center. To ensure that the mistreatment of these individuals does not happen again we are working with lawyers and a coalition of civil rights organizations.

Currently, each of the detainees has representation and their cases both for their asylum and mistreatment are in litigation. This Friday, February 15, 2019, a coalition of civil rights groups including SALDEF will be rallying outside the El Paso Processing Center to bring attention to this issue. If you can attend or know someone in the area and they would like to attend have them email Gujari@SALDEF.org for instructions.

Lawyers in the El Paso area are also looking for on the ground interpreters if you or someone you know is interested and can be on the ground email Gujari@SALDEF.org.

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About SALDEF: Founded in 1996, SALDEF is a national civil right, advocacy, and educational organization. Its mission is to empower Sikh Americans by building dialogue, deepening understanding, promoting civic and political participation, and upholding social justice and religious freedom for all Americans.