BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — (UPDATE 8 P.M.) A legal organization in Oakland is refuting allegations made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over a potential hunger strike at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center.
According to ICE's statement, a detainee was informed by their attorney to initiate a hunger strike, resulting in over 70 detainees avoiding meals at the center. ICE stated that 21 of those detainees made hunger strike claims to staff.
ICE's said in a statement that a detainee was informed by their attorney to initiate a hunger strike, resulting in over 70 detainees avoiding meals at the center. According to that statement ICE alleged the hunger strike was in response to the repetitive cycle of the meal menu.
The Oakland based legal organization Centro Legal De La Raza said this information was false. Centro Legal stated that dozens of detained immigrants launched the hunger strike Thursday, beginning the action in the name of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, and Tony Mcdade. Representatives with Centro Legal also said the hunger strike was in response to the recent deaths in ICE custody of Choung Woon Ahn and Carlos Mejia, as well as concerns over concerns over ICE’s response to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement alleging possible internal and external coercion in connection to a potential hunger strike at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center.
According to the statement, an anonymous source at Mesa Verde said that a detainee was instructed by their attorney to initiate a hunger strike. The statement said that detainees reported avoiding meals in protest to the repetitive cycle of the meal menu, but that external sources told ICE the alleged strike was due to concerns regarding ICE’s response to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Mesa Verde reported there were 77 detainees who did not eat their facility provided dinner meal, 78 did not attend breakfast on Thursday, and 83 did not attend lunch, ICE said. Of those, Mesa Verde said 21 detainees made hunger strike claims to staff, the rest said they just were not interested in eating their facility provided meals. Per regulation, those 238 meals had to be discarded, ICE said.
ICE said when a detainee misses nine consecutive meals, officials will determine if the detainee needs to be placed in a medical facility for observation. Medical staff are required to measure and record detainee weight, according to ICE, for the initial evaluation and at least once every 24 hours during a hunger strike. Mesa Verde reported the 21 declared hunger strikers have refused to be weighed, ICE said.
All detainees at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center still have access to the commissary food they have purchased, ICE said.
The Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center has had no reported cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, either among detainees or staff, according to the statement.