Hunger-striking immigration detainee force-fed in NJ

On June 15, a federal judge in Trenton, New Jersey, ruled that officials at the Monmouth County jail in Freehold can use intravenous or feeding tubes to force feed immigration detainee Samuel Izrailovich Shevaniya, who is on hunger strike. Shevaniya arrived at Monmouth County jail on June 7 and stopped eating on June 9. According to a petition filed on June 14 by the US Attorney’s Office in Newark and obtained by The Star-Ledger, Shevaniya has “steadfastly indicated he has no intention of eating,” and if he doesn’t get food soon “his health will continue to deteriorate and he will ultimately die.” Undersheriff Cynthia Scott, a spokesperson for the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department, said Shevaniya was cooperating with doctors, who will use either an intravenous tube or a feeding tube to deliver nourishment.

Detainee advocates and attorneys say they don’t remember a time when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency asked for a court order to make a detainee eat. “For the most part, they put them in isolation and threaten to force-feed people,” said Subhash Kateel, co-director of Families for Freedom, a New York City-based group.

The Monmouth facility is mainly used to detain people picked up by ICE’s New York City office. Shevaniya’s hunger strike comes less than a month after a controversy over a canceled visit to the jail by a United Nations human rights inspector. Scott said the inspector, Jorge Bustamante, canceled his visit after jail officials set several conditions, including allowing jail officials to videotape his interviews with detainees. Bustamante called that statement “a lie,” saying jail officials simply denied access. (Star Ledger, Newark, June 16, 2007)

From Immigration News Briefs, June 24

See our last post on the immigration crackdown.