Around 25 women being held in the immigration detention center in Karnes County in Texas have gone on hunger strike, according to media reports and an immigrant advocacy group. The women are seeking release for themselves and their children after being kept in detention for nearly a year.
The great majority of the women were placed in detention following the border surge in 2012, when tens of thousands of women and children from Central America crossed into the United States claiming asylum, according to the Houston Chronicle. The group has gone on hunger strike as a way of protesting against the decision to keep them in detention, which was made by the Obama administration.
“We will fight until we are granted our liberty,” Honduran detainee Kenia told the Houston Chronicle via telephone. “Our children are all losing weight because they’ve lost their appetites. It’s like we’re living in a jail.” The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services estimates that the number of women in the group was originally between 40 and 80; however, this number has dropped because several women have since been placed in isolation.
The women released a letter on Tuesday explaining their group’s motivation for the hunger strike and declaring that they will not stop until they get what they want. “This strike will continue until every one of us is freed,” the letter states. “We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights, to the immigration process, be respected.”