ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of Iraqi and Kurdish immigrants detained in the United States have gone on a hunger strike to protest unfair treatment by immigration authorities, according to a court filing on Friday.
The American Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint calling on the government to release the demands, number, names, and location of detainees on hunger strike, the Middle East Eye reported.
Dozens of Chaldean Catholics and Kurds were arrested by authorities in the US in early June after Baghdad agreed to a deal with the Donald Trump administration which saw Iraq removed from the countries listed on a “Muslim ban.”
Over 1,400 Iraqis received removal orders, and 288 were detained.
Most of the immigrants had come to the US legally but committed crimes which violated the terms of their visas, authorities said.
According to the brother of a detainee on hunger strike at a prison for immigrants in Youngstown, Ohio, nearly 25 Iraqis are refusing to eat in protest for being detained beyond a 90-day review period.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Friday confirmed at least seven detainees had not eaten in 72 hours while others had been “randomly refusing food.”
Rana Elmir, the deputy director of ACLU Michigan, said the court filing demanded that those detained who agreed to voluntary deportation were entitled to an attorney.
She also said it was unjust to keep the immigrants in prison while their cases could potentially take months to sort out.
“These hunger strikes reflect the desperation of our community members who have now been in detention for three months without justification,” Elmir stated.
Many of the imprisoned immigrants have families who rely on them for income. The deputy director added the detainees were “risking their own lives [on a hunger strike] as a way to try to reunite with their families.”
Those in custody had also complained of mistreatment, psychological abuse, and racial slurs at the hands of ICE authorities, the ACLU said.
Activists say the immigrants could face persecution or death if deported to Iraq as most of them no longer have families or homes in the country.