ICE detainees protest in Georgia

More than 1,000 immigration detainees held a two-day hunger strike at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, according to the consul general of El Salvador in Georgia, Asdrubal Aguilar. The Atlanta Latino newspaper reported the protest in a March 22 article, but did not say when it took place. The facility is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) under contract with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Aguilar said the Salvadoran consulate received as many as 600 calls in one day from detainees reporting the protest and complaining about conditions. The consulate sent staff members to the detention center and interviewed 40 detainees. Aguilar reported that detainee Oscar Armando Castaneda Lopez was beaten by CCA guards after clashing with a guard who tried to force him to eat. Castaneda was punished with 45 days in “the hole,” an isolation unit. After the hunger strike, authorities transferred the women detainees at Stewart to the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama.

Guillermo Antonio Carpio, a 70-year old detainee at Stewart, told the consulate he is HIV-positive and has Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, yet is denied adequate food and medical care at Stewart. Carpio said when he has medical problems needing attention, it generally takes two to four days before he can see a doctor. Another detainee, Carlos Antonio Alfaro, said he suffers from attacks of schizophrenia which must be controlled with medication, but since being detained he has not had access to medication and his condition has worsened.

Jose Saul Hernandez Argueta, also detained at Stewart, said he and his wife were arrested last October in a raid on a Houston meatpacking plant. Their only son, who was eight years old and suffered from asthma, was at school when his parents were arrested; he was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, who were unfamiliar with his treatment needs. Hernandez said his son’s asthma grew worse and he died three weeks ago from complications of the condition. “My wife is currently in an immigration jail in Texas, and I don’t even know if she knows about our son,” said Hernandez. (Atlanta Latino, March 22)

From Immigration News Briefs, March 30

Similar protests were recently reported from New Jersey. Immigration raids were also a key focus of protests against George Bush in his recent stopover in Guatemala.

See our last post on the immigration crackdown.