Loved ones of  ICE -detained immigrants in Eloy claim a hunger strike in captivity was met with swift retaliation by guards. That hunger strike was aimed to call attention to the alleged abuses inside the detention facility, and, they say, the suspicious deaths of two detainees.

According to the immigration human rights group, Puente, as soon as detainees announced their plans for a hunger strike Saturday, guards locked them outside exposed to the harsh sun for five hours with no shade or water. The group of advocates made their sentiments known Monday in front of the ICE headquarters near Downtown Phoenix.

Francisca Porchas with Puente says they’re demanding local ICE Director Albert Carter meet with them and the Justice department investigate the alleged violations. Porchas says the detainees are denied food, water, emergency services, and have been cut off visitation time and phone calls to relatives.

An ICE official who spoke on condition of anonymity  argues, not only would ICE not resort to such measures because it’s illegal and violates policy, it was Puente, not the detainees that called the hunger strike. The official says, it technically was not a hunger strike Saturday since three days not yet lapsed at the time of the declaration. That source adds, ICE is “committed to ensuring the welfare of those in custody.”

–Barbara Villa