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Families report Iraqi detainees on hunger strike

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Some Iraqi immigrants who are being detained while they fight deportation have gone on a hunger strike.

It’s not clear how many detainees are refusing to eat. Family members and the ACLU say it might be as many as 50. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement says seven detainees have been placed on medical watch after going without eating for 72 hours.

Many of the detainees are from metro Detroit and are being held at a federal facility in Youngstown-Ohio.

Ashourina Slewo’s father is being held at the facility. She says the detainees want to be released to their families while their cases are argued.

“They just want to fight their cases from their homes, from out here.”

She says the lengthy detention is a hardship on the immigrants and their families.

“There’s such a financial burden on the families out here because they are there. If they were out here, they could work, they could provide for their families, they could pay for their lawyers themselves, but right now, what we’re stuck with, it’s a bit much, honestly.”

“Right now, with this hunger strike, what they’re demanding – and I don’t think this is an unreasonable demand – what they want is to be able to come home and fight their cases from out here.”

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement says seven detainees have been placed on medical watch after going without eating for 72 hours. The ACLU says the detention far from their families poses a needless hardship, and makes it harder for the immigrants to consult with their attorneys. Many have been in custody for months.

The federal government is seeking to deport the detainees because they have criminal convictions in their past.