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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Six of the Dream 9 are in solitary confinement at Eloy Detention Center as of Friday afternoon. At first, they refused food because of their restricted phone access, and now they are refusing food until they are released. The six in solitary confinement are Lizbeth Mateo, Claudia Amaro, Ceferino Santiago, Lulu Martinez, Marco Saavedra, and Mario Felix.
This is utterly despicable, alas routine practice in detention nowadays.
Solitary confinement is considered by many to amount to torture. UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez has reported that “considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause, it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…” On many occasions, the solitary confinement of political activists in other countries has been considered grounds for asylum in the United States. Alas, this is how the U.S. treats our young civil rights leaders trying to seek refuge, humanitarian parole, and asylum in a country that is their home but considers them ‘illegal.’
Conditions at Eloy Detention Center are particularly horrific and ground zero for immigrant suicides. The Corrections Corporation-run detention center is under investigation already after Jorge Garcia-Mejia, 40, and Elsa Guadalupe-Gonzales, 24, were found hanging and lifeless in their cells earlier this year. John Ferron, a U.S. veteran and father of eight, who has suffered in prolonged mandatory detention at the Eloy Detention Center, went on a hunger-strike and was subject to force-feeding just this month. Our friends could suffer the same fate if they are not released soon.
ICE officials are probably taking these atrocious actions because they are petrified at the prospect of the undocumented youth leaders organizing inside the detention facility. Before they were placed in confinement, the DREAM 9 were able to interview and collect stories from at least 7 people who were also detained at Eloy, even though they had committed no crimes.
Thus far, we have heard nothing but silence from those who are part of the non-profit immigration reform complex. Even if you disagree with the tactics of our friends who risked their lives to effect change in a brutal immigration system, silence at this point is not just complacency. Silence is support for President Obama’s 1.7 million deportations and broken families. Silence is support for the detention of Dreamers trying to come home. Silence is support for torture.
It is perplexing why advocates are silent considering this is turning out to be a PR nightmare for the Obama Administration. You’d think they would use their all-access White House pass to tell the President to end this nightmare before every single immigration reform townhall for the month of August turns into a BRINGTHEMHOME event. Alas, they aren’t every bright — if they were smart, they wouldn’t be trying to pass the same bill for the past decade. There should be no doubt that we will take to the streets, storm offices, refuse to leave, get arrested, and detained ourselves, if our friends are tortured any longer.
And do not forget — this torture is your tax dollars at work, more than $11,000 to detain 9 peaceful activists for 5 days and counting.
Please keep calling your Representatives and ask them to sign on to the Rep. Honda letter requesting for parole for the #DREAM9. When you call, please let your Representative know that the Dreamers are being held in solitary confinement.
If you are part of an organization, consider signing on in support of bringing them home.
Here is a map of Solidarity actions for the DREAM 9.
Early next week, the officials will conduct “credible fear interviews” with the DREAM 9 to ascertain their fear of returning to Mexico. If officials turn them down, the DREAM 9 have the option to request review by an Immigration Judge (IJ). If they don’t seek review, ICE would remove them from the United States.
Time is of the essence.
“This is a movement about peoples’ lives. Now is not the time for silence.”
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