Even after the United States and the Donald Trump administration faced a massive backlash for the zero-tolerance crackdown on illegal immigration, it looks like things haven't really changed at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centres in the country. Terrifying stories are now pouring in from the El Paso, Texas, centre where seven Punjabi asylum seekers remain detained for several months.
The detainees have said that none of them have been granted bonds to make their case making it almost impossible for them to get an access to a counsel or win the case. "They want their cases to be heard in a proper way" without any kind of pre-judgements, Medium quoted Ruby Kaur, an attorney representing two of the Indian detainees.
Speaking of their ordeal, the Punjabi men said that they had no access to a counsel, and were even kept in solitary confinement on several occasions. When they went on a hunger strike in protest, the detainees accused the ICE of mistreatment and narrated instances when they were pushed and dragged along the floor. The men said that they even had to endure two-weeks of force feeding, but their demands weren't met.
After such treatment, which the detainees said "broke their spirits," five men resumed eating. However, two of them are reportedly still striking. As a result, the Punjabi men have lost a lot weight and often speak of how cold they are. Family members and attorneys too have spoken of this and have said that the guard open the doors of the bunk rooms and refuse to shut it despite objection from the detainees.
If that wasn't enough, medical facilities are said to be sparse. One of the men has reportedly been suffering from a back pain for about a week, but has received no treatment. Amrit Singh, the uncle of one of the two remaining strikers, also told Medium that his nephew is so weak that he could not even speak to him over the phone. Singh also said that his nephew has been suffering from nose-bleeding due to an injury sustained when a food tube was recently forced down his throat and added that he even vomited blood.
Of the five detainees, who recently started eating, two have now been deported to India.
Meanwhile, these heart-breaking stories have been trickling in for a while now. About 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, were detained at a federal prison in the state of Oregon last year and they spoke of similar treatment. The men told the Oregonian that they had been separated from their families weeks ago and had not been able to meet anyone since. The only contact they had with the outside world were their Hindi and Punjabi translators, the access to which was also limited.
They also said that they were locked for about 22-23 hours a day and weren't even able to get legal aid. The immigrants spoke of isolation and told the lawmakers that they have no clue where their wives and children are and also worry that they may never see them again.
The treatment metted out to children was said to be no better. Several immigrant children, some as young as 14, housed at a juvenile detention centre in Virginia spoke of abuse and torture. In federal court filings, which comprise many sworn statements from Latino children, many of the detainees spoke about how they were handcuffed, beaten and left nude in their cells. Some even said that the guards have often stripped them, strapped them to chairs and left with bags over their heads.
Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn't really move. ... They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head. It has little holes; you can see through it. But you feel suffocated with the bag on," Associated Press quoted a Honduran immigrant as saying.
Another migrant teen, taken away from his mother, said that he tried to run away from one of the detention centres but was caught. After he started acting out and getting into fights, he was moved to another centre over "behavioural issues."
The facility even went on to say that he had been diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and intermittent explosive disorder. But his defiance only let to more pain.
They will grab my hands and put them behind my back so I can't move. Sometimes they will use pens to poke me in the ribs, sometimes they grab my jaw with their hands," he said in his declaration, reported CNN.
"They are bigger than me. Sometimes there will be three or four of them using force against me at the same time. The force used by staff has left bruises on my wrists, on my ribs, and on my shoulder. The doctor here gave me ibuprofen for the pain."