On Friday April 10th, a coordinated act of defiance and solidarity was organized by individuals detained inside the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center and uplifted by community based organizations and attorneys across the state of California. The action underscored the demands by those inside the facility and announced the start of a hunger strike to bring attention to their goals. Since this action was announced, a spokesperson for ICE has attacked the parties involved, accusing them of undertaking a “shameful, coordinated campaign against truth” and referring to reports of the start of the hunger strike as “disgusting false propaganda.”
In response, the California Committee for Immigrant Liberation has issued the following statement:
From the “California Committee for Immigrant Liberation”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11th 2020
Community Responds to ICE’s Lies on Mesa Verde Hunger Strike, Demands Freedom for Detainees
ICE has made a statement denying that a hunger strike is taking place in the Mesa Verde Detention Facility, which is owned and operated by the for-profit entity GEO. The statement by ICE was provided less than a day after a hunger strike was announced in this facility.
ICE and GEO have a stated policy in which a hunger strike is not recognized until nine consecutive meals are missed. This would normally require three days of missed meals to pass before a hunger strike is recognized. This abhorrent policy allows ICE to falsify what is taking place in these detention facilities, and distort reality according to their own inhumane protocols.
ICE’s track record of spreading lies is well documented, with their own spokesman resigning rather than continuing to spread falsehoods. In this case their furious rhetoric is aimed at breaking the solidarity between those inside the facility and the community, and seeks to distort the truth for the press that is paying attention.
In true Orwellian fashion, ICE has responded by accusing those who amplify the demands of detainees as being involved in “deceptive tactics” which “exploits the plight of detainees.” ICE levies these charges against grassroots organizations, while it contracts with private operators who pay detainees $1 a day for labor.
Individuals organizing inside the facility have confirmed that they are in fact engaging in a hunger strike. According to ICE’s own stated policy, it is both premature and inappropriate for them to issue a determination that a hunger strike is not taking place. Instead of dealing with the facts, ICE has chosen to lash out against detainees and the community. This is an indication of their desperation to hide the truth as the world watches.
The people in these facilities are facing a deadly pandemic and fighting for their lives, while being kept in chains by a corporation who profits from their detention. Their bravery and solidarity has been met with a vicious rhetoric from an agency that is systematically depriving them of their liberty and humanity, and the ability to protect themselves during a pandemic. ICE and GEO must set them free.
California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA)
Centro Legal de la Raza
Immigrant Defense Advocates
Kern Welcoming and Extending Solidarity to Immigrants (KWESI)
Kern Youth Abolitionists (KYA)
Pangea Legal Services