Karnes moms to renew hunger strike

Last week 78 immigrant mothers took part in a hunger strike and work stoppage to call attention to the inhumane treatment that families are receiving in Karnes Immigrant Detention Facility. Today, 10 women are resuming the strike, refusing all services for another week and calling for their release. 

This is after many of the protestors and their young children were isolated as punishment for striking, held in a cold, dark room and denied food. Kenia Galeano, a 26-year-old asylum seeker from Honduras was detained with her two-year-old son for five months at the Karnes, and is now protesting from outside the center. She says she worries about her cellmate and her 11-year-old son, who were forced to flee their home after being threatened by local gangs. Their cases, like those of the other women striking this week, fit under the category of “reasonable fear,” meaning that local deportation officers must to defer to ICE director Sarah Saldaña to grant them bond or release them. Some have been detained for months.

Silky Shah, co-director of Detention Watch Network, contextualizes these cases within the history of our growing immigrant detention industry:

The list of people with no hope of release in US detention centers is growing at an alarming rate: immigrant families, asylum-seekers, and now individuals with prior criminal convictions. Detention, with no alternatives or way out, for such a huge number of people who pose no safety risk to their communities is an outrageous violation of human rights and an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars.

Immigrant rights activists argue that ICE is holding detainees with proven “reasonable fear” cases as an effort to deter other migrants from coming North. By making life unbearable for detainees here, they hope that other migrants — facing similarly life-threatening violence and poverty at home — will take a hint. Not only is there no independent evidence that this works, but it is inhumane and was recently rendered illegal. Yet 15-20 women have been held at the Karnes facility for 5 months or more, and they want answers.

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Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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