A little over a week ago, six immigrant detainees at the Eloy Detention Center began a hunger strike to demand their release from one of several privately owned facility that has holds immigrants in Arizona. Among them was Jaime Valdez–who was suddenly deported in the middle of the night late Tuesday, despite the fact that his immigration case was in appeal. Valdez, who had been held at Eloy for more than a year, was entering the ninth day of his hunger strike, and his body was undoubtedly weakened as he was deported to Mexico. Five of the original hunger strikers remain at Eloy, and say they have been placed in solitary confinement as a result.
The detainees’ loved ones on the outside are striking in solidarity. One of them, Anselma López, was hospitalized late Monday, but has since been released. The strikers on the outside had been camped out at the Downtown Phoenix ICE office, and were joined by supporters in Phoenix. Civilians have already attacked the group: burritos with racist messages penned on them were thrown at the strikers.
But that’s not all. Phoenix Police Department officers began evicting the camp late Tuesday night, taking personal property and arresting two well-known immigrant rights activists, Carlos Garcia and Erika Andiola. It’s expected that both will be released on bond soon.
The strikers are determined to continue their vigil–and hope their loved ones will be released from Eloy. Some supporters are raising funds to send them “solidarity flowers.”