A number of detained migrant fathers in Texas have gone on a hunger strike after reuniting with their sons, demanding that they be set free together.
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a migrant advocacy group, announced the hunger strike Thursday and reported the migrant fathers said they were being held in Karnes, Texas, without any update on their immigrant status. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) responded that it respects the rights of migrants to voice their opinions and asserted it would not retaliate against the group for striking. (RELATED: Trump Vows Government Shutdown Over Immigration)
RAICES read a letter from a participating migrant identified only as “Jorge” to reporters via conference call.
“We are desperate, we are tired of being incarcerated and we want to be released with our sons,” the letter said, according to Reuters.
“We do not deserve to be deported after so much suffering with our sons. We ask a judge to please help us,” the letter added, according to Chron.
RAICES claimed the letter represented 400 families and that almost 600 people took part in sit-in protests at the Karnes County Residential Center. Children also reportedly refused to attend school and other educational activities, ostensibly as part of the protest.
Some of the fathers claimed they had been tricked into agreeing to be deported as a condition of being reunited with their children while others said they have not been able to apply for asylum.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions tightened asylum criteria in June, saying that fear of domestic abuse alone does not qualify someone for asylum. The move was seen as part of an effort to stem the abuse of the asylum process, which some migrants have used to gain access to the U.S. with false claims.
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