13 other Sikh men seeking asylum still confined at detention center.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: Nine Sikh asylum seekers were released from an immigration jail on Monday after they staged a 14-day hunger strike, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Those who were released were just a fraction of the 22 asylum-seekers who took part in the protest, demanding that they be released while their asylum cases are evaluated. Thirteen of the Indian men remain in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the Broward Transitional Center, according to the ACLU.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been under increasing pressure to release asylum seekers who pose a low flight risk, especially women and children housed in family detention, reported the Latin Times.
â€œThings should never have reached this extreme point,â€ ACLU of Florida staff attorney Shalini Agarwal said in a statement. â€œICE needs to honor immigration enforcement priorities [and] use its prosecutorial discretion to not detain asylum seekers without bond, especially where they have demonstrated credible fear of persecution if returned to their home countries. Their granting of bond to some of these men is an important step, but there are many more detainees like them who shouldnâ€™t be kept behind bars while their asylum proceedings are underway.â€
Some of the men may have been subjected to forced feeding and solitary confinement, according to a letter sent to ICE by the ACLU on August 6th.
The asylum-seekers from Punjab initially began their hunger strike after they learned they would appear before a judge at the Broward Transitional Center who would not likely grant them bond, reported Sikh24.com.
They were transferred to Krome Service Processing Center in Miami-Dade County, where they say they were supposed to receive a bond hearing. However, when they learned July 25 that their cases were being transferred back to BTC for removal hearings, they went back on hunger strike.
ICE subsequently released a prepared statement that said the agency does not manipulate the immigration court system by transferring detainees to facilities overseen by different immigration court judges.