Asylum seekers in a women’s detention center in Taylor, Texas, have been placed in solitary confinement, relocated and had certain privileges revoked for staging hunger strikes this week, according to activists, teleSUR English reports. The 27 women were protesting their extended detention and had their phone calls and outdoor time limited, and also faced higher prices for bail and food, according to grassroots organization Texans United for Families.
The activists said two of the women in the T. Don Hutto Detention Center -- the only all-female detention facility in Texas -- were relocated, and one was placed in solitary confinement.
The center and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied that the women were striking, but Texans United for Families and ThinkProgress said the women hand-wrote letters to the U.S. government demanding their release after many passed their first interviews in the asylum application process.
“Currently, no one at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center was identified as being on a hunger strike or refusing to eat,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Adelina Pruneda said in an email to Fusion. She added that the situation was being monitored, and although she couldn’t comment on specific cases, it’s not unusual for detainees to be moved between facilities.
A letter written by Honduran detainee Insis Maribel Zelaya released by Texans United for Families said she was placed in solitary confinement this weekend.
“They have separated me from my friends, they have me in a very cold room … I feel like they are treating me like a criminal. It’s an injustice,” the translated letter read.
T. Don Hutto is run under government contract by the Corrections Corporation of America and holds approximately 500 women, RT America reported. The initial strikers began their campaign Oct. 28 by holding a vigil when the detainees were all outside during an evening recreation period.