From Tacoma to Texas, Hunger Strikers Challenge Private Immigration Detention Centers

A hunger strike at a private GEO Group immigration detention center in Tacoma, Washington, has spread to another GEO facility in Texas after President Obama called for a review of immigration-enforcement policies last week. But will private prison lobbying ensure beds at these facilities stay filled?

Adelina Cáceres doesn’t understand why her husband, David Vásquez, who is a documented resident, remains detained at the privately run Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, Texas, as a result of a prior charge he already served time for years ago.

“Why do they call him a criminal?” Cáceres asked as she sobbed during a phone interview with Truthout. “He already paid for it. He made a big payment. He was in jail, and he paid for that problem. He was in jail for almost a month. … And now the law is making him go back and pay again. Why?” she asked. She continued to weep as she explained how she is struggling to feed her three children and pay the bills since Vásquez has been detained.

“Double judgment” policies – such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program Operation Cross Check – is one of the many policies that have prompted Vásquez and approximately 120 more detainees at the Conroe detention center to launch a hunger strike Monday, after hearing word about a hunger strike and work stoppage at another immigration detention center in Tacoma, Washington. Both facilities are run by the private company GEO Group.