Jailed Immigrant Moms On Hunger Strike – Will Obama Ever Notice Their Plight?

Petitions bearing some 10,000 signatures have been delivered to the government – but the women had to renew their hunger strike.

karnes county civil detention center

President Barack Obama announced this week that he will finally go to the Mount Rushmore State – the last of the 50 states to host him.

"I can't let my South Dakota friends feel neglected,” he told KSFY, an ABC-affiliated local TV station Sioux Falls.

There is a lot of excitement in the media regarding this presidential visit since Obama will become the become the fourth sitting chief executive to visit all U.S. states when he delivers a college commencement address next month in South Dakota.

However, there is one other place where Obama should stop by while he is in the office, since people there have been protesting for days to get noticed by him.

A group of immigrant mothers kept in a family detention camp in Karnes City, Texas, vowed to go on a hunger strike for the second time this month on Tuesday, demanding their immediate release from incarceration.

The 500-bed facility, which opened in 2012 and touted as a “model” detention center, has been the center of the heated immigration debate after the Obama administration renewed the mass detention of immigrant families.

Children caught trying to cross the Mexican border

“It’s very hard here, the food isn’t adequate, it’s awful, horrible ... The children who eat it become sick,” 37-year-old mother Delmi Cruz told the Guardian during a phone interview. “My son has horrible stomach pain and is still very sick.”

Petitions bearing 10,000 signatures have been submitted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldaña by immigration rights groups, according to the Huffington Post. But the women are still awaiting freedom.

GEO Group Inc., the second-largest private prison company that runs the facility, has not yet made an official statement on the issue.

Recommended: Obama's Immigration Reform: What Will Happen And When

Earlier this month, around 78 mothers complained of the conditions at the facility; of them, 40 launched a Holy Week hunger and work strike. In response, according to ThinkProgress, detention officers locked the protesters along with their children in a dark room, denied them access to the Internet and even threatened to take their children away.

Last October, a number of women at Karnes alleged they were sexually assaulted by guards and workers at the center – an allegation later denied in a report by the Department of Homeland Security due to lack of evidence.

GEO Group strictly refuted the allegations and ICE refused to discuss the matter, according to CNN, however saying that it "has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse or assault and our facilities are maintained in accordance with applicable laws and policies."

Democracy Now, an independent news website, interviewed a mother and her son who were held in isolation for a week at Karnes. You can watch it in the video below:

Read More: Is Deporter-in-Chief The Only Hope For Undocumented Immigrants?

Although the already existing family detention centers have prompted a huge amount of backlash from human rights activists, the country’s largest detention center for immigrant families nevertheless opened in South Texas last December.

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