Since Trump took office, the federal government has escalated its attacks on immigrant communities. Banning entry to the United States for people from eight countries, eliminating DACA, and increasing the number of ICE arrests by 43% are just some of the ways that the Trump administration has implemented its anti-immigrant agenda.
On the other hand, communities have come together in many ways to resist these assaults and immigrant people being held in detention centers have stood up against abominable conditions, fighting for their dignity and freedom.
In June 2017, a group of nearly 30 women detained by ICE at California’s Adelanto Detention Facility (run by GEO, the private prison group) started a hunger strike to protest their poor treatment. They demanded better medical care, lower bond amounts, to be reunited with their children and families, and to be treated with basic respect by the guards. The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, also run by GEO through a contract with ICE, has seen a series of hunger strikes since spring 2017 to protest terrible conditions which include the reportedly rampant use of solitary confinement and guard assaults on detainees.
On July 20, 2017, a remarkable collection of persons gathered in front of the ICE offices in San Francisco to urge ICE to release Veronica Zepeda from Mesa Verde Detention facility in Bakersfield. Ms. Zepeda has a serious heart condition and the guards have not allowed her to get medical care. Veronica escaped death threats from gangs in her native El Salvador by going to Mexico.
Veronica sent a greeting to the gathering on July 20:
“I say this from my heart: I am an abused woman, but I am here looking for the opportunity to move forward for my beautiful children, whom I love so much….My life has changed so much in detention. I’m afraid to lose my life here in the Mesa Verde Detention Center. During the past six months that I have been here, I have had three mild heart attacks and several fainting episodes. I’m afraid that one day my heart will stop…The officers
here cannot take me to the hospital until they receive ICE authorization… I send hugs and blessings. God bless you today and forever! I love all of you. I wish God will allow me to meet you in person soon.”
Zepeda was released from Mesa Verde on July 28 after immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks ruled that she should be released on her own recognizance. Mother Jones reported Zepeda will now move to Houston, and her case will move to the Texas immigration court docket.
CCWP stands in solidarity with all the courageous women and men who offer examples of courage and resistance that can inspire us all.