Eight Central American refugees have filed a federal lawsuit against the GEO Group, and the city of Adelanto in Riverside, reports Robert Kahn for Courthouse News Service.
The lawsuit alleges that the GEO Group operates the “deadliest immigration center in the country,” and subjected persons locked up to inhumane treatment and abuses, such as assault and battery, pepper-spray attacks, intentional scalding, and denial of medical care and access to an attorney.
The suit claims assaults began June 12, 2017, after the plaintiffs started a hunger strike to protest against their conditions of confinement. Those conditions included a lack of clean drinking water, nearly inedible food, and issuance of “dirty and unwashed” underwear, the story reports.
According to Khan, plaintiff Omar Rivera Martinez, an asylum-seeker from El Salvador, alleged that GEO guards slammed his face into a wall, which fractured his nose, knocked out a tooth, a dental crown and a 14-tooth gold mouthpiece that lined his bottom teeth. A year after the attack, Martinez said he still hasn’t received the surgery a doctor ordered to repair his fractured nose.
The lawsuit alleges all eight plaintiffs were pepper-sprayed and then put into solitary confinement for 10 days, after the June 12 assaults. Martinez said that when he was released from solitary confinement, he was sent to the same “high-security ward” that housed the gang members “that murdered his family members and caused him to flee his home country.”
Another plaintiff who fled from El Salvador was an investigative journalist who received death threats after he “exposed the connections between his local government, the police and the violent MS-13 gang.” [A gang that President Trump recently described as “animals,” who are illegally entering the United States.]
Amid the 26-page U.S. District Court lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that most of the Adelanto’s inhabitants are law-abiding foreign nationals who were merely seeking safety and refuge. Many of the abuses at Adelanto were documented by Human Rights Watch, which noted that many detainees had committed suicide in the early months of 2017, due to the deplorable conditions.
Since the lawsuit was filed, one of the plaintiffs told Kahn he has been granted political asylum.