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Congresswomen Bonamici, Escobar Demand ICE to End Force-Feeding

February 7, 2019
Press Release


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), along with 14 Members of Congress, sent a letter to ICE Acting Director Ronald Vitiello demanding ICE to end the practice of force-feeding detainees.


“We were disturbed to hear ongoing reports of hunger strikes at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. We were equally troubled to learn that several of these individuals are being forced-fed,” wrote the lawmakers.


“Given that the United Nations recognizes forced-feeding as ‘tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’ it is critical that ICE commit to ending this practice.”


In the letter, the lawmakers request information about the cases themselves; ICE policies and procedures in place to protect detainees from retribution for striking; and inquire about why alternatives to detention are not being used in these cases.


Finally, the lawmakers ask Acting Director Vitiello to provide daily updates on the hunger strike, and request a meeting to discuss force-feeding and other areas of concern.


The letter follows Congresswoman Escobar’s oversight visit to the El Paso Processing Center where several detainees are on strike. During the visit, Congresswoman Escobar spoke with personnel and six detainees to learn more about their situation and confirmed these reports.


Led by Congresswomen Veronica Escobar and Suzanne Bonamici, the letter was also signed by Reps. Betty McCollum (MN-04), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Al Green (TX-09), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Darren Soto (FL-09), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), and Ilhan Omar (MN-05).


The full letter can be read here.