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Immigrants on Hunger Strike at Buffalo Federal Detention Facility Speak Out, Assert Rights

Listen to a first-hand account of what's going on inside the prison in Batavia, New York, where immigrants are held in detention.

Amba Guerguerian Aug 25

On Monday afternoon, Wilson Peña, who is being held in immigrant detention at Buffalo Federal Detention Facility, told us that people in units B3, B1 and A2 are on hunger strike because immigrants have been locked in solitary for at least 18 hours a day since Aug. 12. We also spoke with another detained person over the weekend who reported the same but would like to remain anonymous. “They started treating us worse than high-security like prisoners. They’re not supposed to do that. We’re supposed to be in immigrant detention,” said the anonymous source. He and Peña asked The Indypendent to get the word out. Please share this video and support if you have the connections to do so.

Notes: 1.) Immigration law states that the conditions in immigrant detention should be less severe than those of people in jail or prison, but that is rarely the reality. 2.) Buffalo Federal Detention is where many detainees from NYC were sent when northern NJ county jails stopped renting out beds to ICE last year.

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I don’t care — they can do whatever they want with me in here if they want to! But I’m not going to be quiet about all of the abuse. 

We, the imprisoned of Buffalo Federal Detention here in Batavia, we want to let you know that last Friday [8/12/22] — I don’t have the exact date, but ten days ago from today [8/22/22] — there was a fight in Unit A1 and seven people fought. They were hurt, and one person broke his arm; they sent them to Guatemala — they deported him. Other people were taken to punishment cells and after all of that happened, a lot of guards came to our cells. They said they were gonna lock us up and they left us all in lock-up [solitary] for 18 hours. All of us in A1 — we’re 42 people — and we’re all locked up. We only get to leave our cells for a couple hours, that’s it. We don’t have recreation or religious services. They’re not letting us go to religious services. We don’t have have the full services that we should receive in immigration [detention], and we’re in a situation where we’re really suffering because they’re violating all of our rights. [Unit] B3 is on a hunger strike. Unit B1 is also on hunger strike and Unit A2 — because we’re broken up into units — so these units are on hunger strike because of the situation that they’re putting us through here.

We’re asking, please, if it’s possible that you all can help us, that the media comes and supports us, that people come and support us because we need support from everyone, please

For those that don’t know, my name is Wilson Peña and my A# is 087392768. I have been in immigrant detention for three and a half years. One thing I want to do is let the hispanic community and everyone else know that here in Buffalo Federal Detention, us detainees have been victims of racism and deception, because there are people who have won our cases, who have won appeals in high courts, who have proven that we have credible fear [of being deported], who have won habeas corpus. And when we go to the court, when we go in front of the Honorable Robert Driscoll, he says that we are flight risks and that we are a danger to the community, and for this he won’t give us bail. Other judges have already sent — they’ve already asked him, “You have to give this person bail, or a release,” but when we go in front of him, he says, “No, no, I’m not going to give that to you. You are dangers to the community, you are a flight risk, and I can’t give it to you.” So he denies us the right to be released, to be free. 

We believe and we know that this is racial discrimination because we have the right to be released. I am a person who has won credible and reasonable fear, who has a permanent stay of removal, who has won my appeals case in the Third Circuit, and in despite of all of that, they haven’t let me go. I was victim of the guards’ abuse [in ICE detention in Essex County Jail]. I was physically and sexually abused by guards, and even still they keep me in detention even though I don’t owe them anything. There are lots of other people, too — we already did the time for our criminal cases. We already did it. We don’t owe anyone anything but they are keeping us here, using the argument that we are dangers to society, but we already paid! We already served our sentences! We don’t have any upcoming trials! 

I don’t care — they can do whatever they want with me in here if they want to! But I’m not going to be quiet about all of the abuse. 

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