UPDATE: Detainees end hunger strike at Adelanto immigrant detention center
Half a dozen men from Central America who supporters say are seeking asylum and refused meals at an immigrant detention facility in Adelanto this week have begun eating again, federal officials said Wednesday.
They said several women detained at the center also refused food, but later changed their minds.
According to immigrant advocates, the men were protesting what they say are poor living conditions, high bond amounts for release, and slow progress on their legal cases.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the unrest began Monday morning when nine men refused to return to their assigned beds for a head count and instead locked arms. After a confrontation, guards pepper-sprayed them and put them in high-security cells, away from the general population of detainees.
Immigrant advocates said the men were beaten by guards during the confrontation. ICE officials said in an emailed statement to KPCC Tuesday that officers "applied the necessary degree of force to extract the resisting detainees from the residence unit and transfer them to a restricted housing area," but they were not beaten.
Officials said none of the detainees or guards were injured.
Six of the men refused food after the Monday incident, according to ICE. They began eating again on Tuesday. Immigrant advocates said the men plan to resume their hunger strike on Friday.
According to the advocates, many of the men involved in the Monday confrontation were part of a "caravan" of migrants who traveled from the Guatemalan border through Mexico, supported by activists along the way.
Tristan Call, an immigrant right activist based in Tennessee, said he met the caravan in Mexico. About 100 migrants from the group then arrived at the border in May, he said. Many were held for detention and were sent to different facilities, including the one in Adelanto.
Call said the Adelanto hunger strikers contacted him the past weekend with a list of demands, which he transcribed and posted online.
According to their list, the hunger strikers are upset about bonds for release set at "impossibly high levels," "bad food" and "incompetence of medical staff," among other grievances.
This story has been updated.