Amidst a community crisis, asylum seeker on 26th Day of Hunger Strike rushed to ER

Attorney swarmed by ICE and denied access to her client

An Indian asylum seeker on day 26 of his hunger strike for freedom was taken by ICE from the El Paso Service Processing Center to an El Paso hospital emergency room late Saturday afternoon. His whereabouts were unknown for several hours. Advocates finally located him at East Providence hospital. Shockingly, his attorney Linda Corchado, with a signed medical waiver from her client in hand, was not allowed to see him. Hospital staff were not the problem. ICE was.

“The El Paso supervising detention and deportation officer denied me access to visit my client in the emergency room,” said Ms. Corchado. “I was able to see him briefly and I asked how he was doing and he said ‘not okay.’ As I tried to approach him, two ICE officers quickly swarmed me and kicked me out of his room.”

The hospital’s patient rights document states unequivocally that patients have the right to be free from restraints of any form that are not medically necessary and that patients have the right to receive visitors.

“It is outrageous that ICE won’t allow this man’s attorney to visit him. What are they hiding? She is his attorney of record and such visits are squarely within his rights.” said Nathan Craig a volunteer with AVID.

Note from hunger striker

“Right now El Paso is reeling from a mass shooting in which 20 people were massacred by a person who was motivated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, much of which comes from our own government. For over a year our southern border communities have seen the brutal treatment of innocent asylum seekers, resulting in numerous deaths and unnecessary suffering at the hands of ICE and Border Patrol. We will not tolerate any more senseless deaths at the hands of ICE. Free these men and they will eat,” said Margaret Brown Vega a volunteer with AVID.

“I don’t give up to my last breathing…”
— hunger striker

Both the hunger strikers at El Paso and now at the Krome Service Processing Center are asylum seekers and they are using the only option left to them to gain their freedom—a hunger strike.

Corchado applied for her clients’ release but ICE refused. Alternatives to detention are humane, especially for hunger strikers who are in a very delicate medical state that requires hospital care, the kind a detention facility cannot provide. 

“This is now the third time in a week that my clients had to be transported to urgent care,” Corchado said. “What further evidence do we need to make the conclusion that an ICE facility cannot provide the attention my clients deserve?”

ICE has no reason to hold these asylum seekers and many reasons to release them. These men have ties to the community. They are pursuing their asylum claims, They are not flight risks, and they pose no threat to the community. They are fully eligible for release, and holding them longer puts their lives in danger. These hunger strikers must be released immediately to their sponsors and caring supporters before their health deteriorates further. By continuing to detain these asylum seekers ICE shows how little regard it has for human life.

August 3, 2019

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