ICE detainee hunger strike at Kearny jail more than doubles participants after hiatus, group says

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After taking a brief hiatus to negotiate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was unsuccessful, the number of detainees at the Hudson County Correctional Facility participating in a hunger strike has more than doubled, Abolish ICE NY-NJ says.

Photo via hudsoncountynnj.org.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“My partner has decided to do this hunger strike with my support so he and other detainees can go home to their loved ones and work on their immigration cases in peace. Instead, they are being locked up 12 hours a day due to a current COVID outbreak at Hudson,” said Mary A., who identified herself as the fiancee of a detainee.

” … Enough is enough, we want them home so they are safe and taken care of by their communities and families.”

The same group said a 25-person hunger strike began in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak on December 28th, though that only lasted for about two days before going on hiatus as they attempted to negotiate their release with ICE officials.

“By Thursday it was clear that no meeting would take place, so the protest resumed,” Abolish ICE NY-NJ said in a statement today, noting that the strike is now up to 55 people.

County spokesman Jim Kennelly denied that there was ever a hunger strike, a position he maintained this evening.

“As a matter of inside the facility, the leadership says that they are not aware of an ongoing organized hunger strike being conducted by members of the detainee population,” he said.

An ICE spokesman also said there is currently no hunger strike at the Kearny facility, though they only officially recognize a hunger strike after breakfast, lunch, and dinner have been skipped for three consecutive days.

As of a week ago, 38 people total, 35 inmates, one U.S. Marshals prisoner, and two corrections officers tested positive for the coronavirus, and that figure has since gone up slightly to 42, officials said.