Hunger Strike At Arizona Detention Center After Immigrant's Mysterious Death


A group of 200 immigrant detainees launched a hunger strike at Eloy Detention Center outside Phoenix Saturday morning to protest a detainee's death last month and call attention to conditions at the facility, said immigrant rights activists and detainees' families.

Last month's death of José de Jesús Deniz-Sahagún, a Mexican national who died in custody at Eloy, prompted the protest. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials issued a statement at the time saying that Deniz-Sahagún was found dead in his cell and did not show signs of injury, but detainees who joined the strike Saturday said guards beat him and locked him up in solitary confinement before he died.

Detainees also claim a second man died in custody, but ICE has refused to acknowledge the death, activists said.

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the protest or the allegations.

Deniz-Sahagún's death has emerged as a rallying cry for detainees, who say they are forced to work at the center for $1 per day and sometimes do not receive needed medical treatment.

"They're outraged because they're the ones who heard him scream for mercy," Francisca Porcha, the director of organizing with the Phoenix-based human rights group Puente, told The Huffington Post. "It was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Among those refusing food in protest is Sandra Ojeda's husband, a migrant from Mexico who was detained at Eloy May 6. Ojeda said her husband could hear Deniz-Sahagún yelling before he died.

"They want an investigation," Ojeda told HuffPost. "Not just my husband, but all the detainees in Eloy are scared that something could happen to them too... Psychologically, this weighs very heavily on them, and on their families outside."

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Hunger Strike At Arizona Detention Center After Immigrant's Mysterious Death