People detained at a Bakersfield ICE Processing Facility began a hunger strike last Friday, after learning a nurse who worked there tested positive for COVID-19. Detainees are demanding ICE release them or provide a healthier environment.
Roughly 70 people across all four dorms at the Mesa Verde Detention Center are hunger striking, said Susan Beaty, a fellow with Centro Legal in Oakland. She says she’s worried not enough people are being tested for COVID-19.
“Officials tested a handful of people who had come into contact with her in the days following her positive test but only a handful,” said Beaty. “So the vast, vast, vast majority of people in the facility including the people who were treated by the nurse in her last week of work have not been tested for COVID.”
As of July 6th, one person detained has tested positive. Meanwhile, the detainees want to know how they can fight the virus when they aren’t getting the nourishment they need, Beaty said. One complaint people have is the food served in the facility is often expired or moldy, Beaty said. That’s why they are demanding ICE release them.
“Until then you have to provide for daily, very, very basic human needs and that includes nutritious and unspoiled food,” said Beaty.
The people at Mesa Verde are also striking in solidarity with those incarcerated at San Quentin where there’s been a large COVID-19 outbreak. ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.