Hunger strikers have been camping outside a detention center in Phoenix, Arizona to protest the detention and scheduled deportations of their loved ones for more than a week — but last night, 30 police officers aggressively descended upon the camp, confiscating supplies and arresting two supporters, Carlos Garcia and Erika Andiola. They are now being held in the jail of Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
As Reyna Montoya, a DREAMer who was present but not arrested told Buzzfeed:
There were over 35 police officers. They were tearing down the tents of the hunger strikers and moving tables. They were very forceful, yelling at us and trying to provoke us.
At least two of the hunger strikers were parents of those who were in detention. Jose Valdez’s son, Valdez Reyes, was apparently deported in the middle of the night, possibly in retaliation for the hunger strike, even though he still has an appeal pending with the 9th circuit. Reyes’ friends and family are terrified because his older brother was also deported — and then killed in Mexico.
Another hunger striker, Anselma Lopez, was hospitalized over health concerns related to the hunger strike. Her son Elder has been in detention for two years and was recently sentenced to deportation to Guatemala. As she says in a video:
Son, I am ready to do this hunger strike for you. It’s a big sacrifice that I’m going to do, but I want you to be reunited with your kids and family because we miss you a lot and we need you. It’s already been three Christmases, three birthdays for each of your kids that you’ve missed. We’re going to be in contact always, you there and me here. God willing.
Immigration reform advocates have been calling upon President Obama to stop separating families and stop deporting those who would qualify for immigration reform. The hunger strikers have vowed to maintain their vigil at ICE until their families are reunited.