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Group Of 40 Mothers In Detainment, Some For As Long As Ten Months, Begin Hunger Strike

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A group of about 40 mothers currently in a detention facility in Texas have launched a hunger strike seeking the release of themselves and their families.

Some women and their children have been detained for as long as ten months, and one mother has said that her child has become depressed and lost weight.

“The children don’t eat. The conditions here are not right. They’re not good for children.”

Many of these families have been detained since last summer, when thousands fled to the United States from violence in Honduras and other Central American countries.

From McClatchyDC:

Kenia Galeano, a 26-year-old mother from Honduras, said in a phone interview that the mothers will not eat, work or send their children to school at the detention center until each of the detainees is released. She said the mothers came to the United States seeking shelter, but are being treated as prisoners.

“We’re many mothers, not just me,” she said. “We want freedom for our children. It’s not right to continue to detain us.”


More than 80 women had initially signed a petition to take part in the strike, but many dropped out after at least two women were placed into isolation with their children in the detention center’s clinic, according to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, an advocacy and legal services group working with in Texas. Johana De Leon, a legal assistant with the group said other mothers were warned they could lose custody of their children as a result of participating in the strike.

Since July, more than 2,500 immigrants, mostly women and children, have been detained at family detention centers.

The Karnes detention camp is one of three facilities set up to house mothers and children in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is boosting its efforts to house mothers and children who have arrived in the country illegally. Advocates say it’s inappropriate to house women and children who have legitimate asylum claims. But the government says it’s important to send a message back to their home countries that those who cross the border illegally will be captured held and returned.

DREAMers’ Moms, an immigrants rights group made up of women and mothers, has also been lifting up their stories on social media:

“We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights, to the immigration process, are respected,” read a letter the detained mothers released earlier this week.

Read more about the hunger strike and the detainment of the families here.