Hutto Hunger Strike Reportedly Growing Despite ICE Denials

November 6, 2015
Texas Observer

One striker's daughter says staff retaliated against her mom by transferring her to solitary confinement in an all-male facility.

She had had enough.

Two weeks ago, nearly seven months into her stay at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, northeast of Austin, Francisca Morales Macias went on a hunger strike. Morales Macias, fleeing an abusive partner in Mexico, was detained at the all-female immigration detention center in April and decided to protest after she was repeatedly served rotten milk and undercooked, and even uncooked, food.

Monica Morales, her 27-year-old daughter, told the Observer that her mother was also experiencing mistreatment by guards inside the center.

“All she did was try to save her life and try to come back to her family” in Texas, said Morales, who lives in Amarillo. Women detained at Hutto, she said, “aren’t animals, they’re human beings.”

By last Wednesday — nine days ago — 26 more women had reportedly joined Morales Macias, refusing dinner and vowing indefinitely not to eat until they are released from the detention facility. Many women, including Morales Macias, have fled violence and persecution in their home countries, including Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, and are seeking asylum in the United States.