For Immediate Release
Miami, Florida – Marvin Reyes Ventura, a 45-year-old El Salvadoran asylum seeker currently in ICE detention at Krome Service Processing Center, is on the 100th day of a hunger strike to fight for his release from detention. This is one of the longest prolonged hunger strikes against ICE practices in recent history. Reyes Ventura, a long-time New Jersey resident, has been on his prolonged second hunger strike for over three months as a political protest to demand ICE release him from detention so that he can seek asylum while living with family and have easier access to his legal representation. He has a pending asylum case that still needs to be adjudicated.
Reyes Ventura has lost close to 40 pounds and faces increasing health risks. Most recently, his doctor has advised him that his prolonged detention puts him at higher risk of permanent organ damage. He refused all liquids the Friday before Memorial Day weekend and was hospitalized shortly after. He was returned to Krome Service Processing Center after a few days at the hospital. “I can’t believe ICE is keeping my brother for this length of time just on liquids. How is this possible? My mother and sister are very worried ICE’s cruelty is causing permanent damage. My brother needs to be released,” said Reyes Ventura’s sister.
Reyes Ventura has been in ICE detention since November 27, 2019. He was initially detained in New Jersey at Essex County Jail, and then transferred to Bergen County Jail in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reyes Ventura states that while at Bergen County Jail, he was kept in “a dirty jail cell with critters and rats,” and “the food was terrible, the sheriffs were racist, and we were kept inside 22 hours a day.”
Neither Bergen County Jail nor ICE or DHS have given any support for the ongoing crises of detention. Rather than releasing people specially under the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE continues to hold people indefinitely claiming they are a “flight risk” or “a danger to society” in order to pacificy any public outcry and proceed to transfer people en masse to far away prisons. These are de facto policies to push people into despair and their own “self” deportation.
On Friday, June 11, 2021, the entire wing of Bergen County Jail that holds New Yorkers under ICE custody were transferred en masse to other facilities, including the federal Buffalo Service Processing Center and the Orange County Jail in New York. Today, on Marvin’s 100 day of hunger striking his indefinite detention, another 38 people in ICE custody in the NJ unit also went on Hunger Strike to demand their release and protest the mass transfers out of New Jersey.