9 Sikh asylum-seekers freed from US jail after hunger strike
Nine of the 22 Indian Sikh asylum-seekers, who were on hunger strike at an immigration jail in Florida demanding that a local court should hear their bond hearing, have been released from the prison.punjab Updated: Aug 13, 2015 01:01 IST
Nine of the 22 Indian Sikh asylum-seekers, who were on hunger strike at an immigration jail in Florida demanding that a local court should hear their bond hearing, have been released from the prison.
As many as 22 asylum-seekers, who travelled through several countries for more than six months before arriving on foot at the Texas border, went on a hunger strike on July 25, claiming that they had been denied a bond hearing that could have released them from custody.
The demanded that that they be released while their asylum cases are evaluated. Nine men were released on August 10 while 13 are still in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at the Broward Transitional Center, according to civil rights group American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
ICE has been under increasing pressure to release asylum-seekers who pose a low flight risk, especially women and children housed in family detention.
ACLU had expressed concern over the deteriorating health of the asylum-seekers, who were on hunger strike, and sought the intervention of the federal government in this regard.
"Things should never have reached this extreme point," Shalini Agarwal, a staff attorney for Florida unit of the ACLU said in a statement.In a letter sent to ICE on August 6, the ACLU alleged that some of the Sikh men may have been subjected to forced feeding and solitary confinement, the Latin Times reported.
The 22 detainees went on hunger strike earlier when they learned that the judge who would hear their bond appeal at the Broward Transitional Center (BTC), does not grant bonds to individuals in their circumstances, even though other detainees in identical circumstances in the same jurisdiction are granted bond.
The Indian nationals were then transferred to Krome Service Processing Center in Florida. Based on promises by ICE officials that they would receive a bond hearing at Krome, they ended the hunger strike.
However, when the day of many of their bond hearings at Krome arrived, their cases were transferred back to BTC for removal hearings. After this they went back on hunger strike on July 25.
A supervising attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice, Jessica Shulruff, said in a statement that the Florida ICE detention centre said that Broward does not extend reasonable bond measures to its inmates.