WASHINGTON — Federal civil rights officials will meet Monday with two immigrant mothers who’ve been leading a hunger strike at a family detention camp in Karnes, Texas.
According to advocates working with the detained families, investigators from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties are expected to talk to the mothers about their allegation that they and their children were assigned to the facility’s medical clinic to punish them for the hunger protest.
The hunger strike has focused attention on a rarely scrutinized portion of the network of facilities run by the government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the sprawling Department of Homeland Security. The Karnes County Residential Center, about an hour southeast of San Antonio, currently houses about 300 mothers and their children who are awaiting a decision on their petitions for asylum.
About 40 are participating in the hunger strike.
Some of the women have been held for as long as 10 months, according to one of the detainees, Kenia Galeano, a 26-year-old from Honduras who spoke with McClatchy. They began refusing food on Monday to protest the lengthy detention of their children.
“We have come to this country with our children seeking refuge and we’re being treated as delinquents,” the women wrote in a letter explaining their actions.