ICE confirms force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike

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tzahiV/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Eleven detainees at an ICE detention facility in El Paso, Texas, have been refusing food, some for more than 30 days, and six of the detainees are being force-fed per orders by a federal judge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Thursday.

An additional four other detainees are on a hunger strike at ICE detention centers nationwide -- one each in the Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco areas -- bringing the number of detainees refusing to eat to 15 nationwide, according to ICE.

Two detainees first began a hunger strike on Dec. 30 and were ordered to undergo "non-consensual hydration/feeding" by a federal judge in Texas about two-and-a-half weeks later, according to ICE. Three more detainees began hunger strikes days later on Jan. 2 and four more began strikes on Jan. 5. On Wednesday, another two detainees joined the hunger strike, ICE said Thursday.

Hunger strike protocols -- which begins with a referral to a medical department, according to ICE policy -- were triggered after detainees missed their ninth consecutive meal.

ICE "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference," the agency said in a statement, and "does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers."

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