Currently those who have violated immigration infractions comprise the largest population in U.S. federal penal facilities, where they are detained while their cases are processed.[1] Hunger strikes have been used to bring attention to the conditions of these facilities, which often violate human rights, and to fight for detained people’s freedom.

The 2015 hunger strikes and letters written by detailed women at both the Karnes and Hutto Detention Centers illustrate detained women contesting the devised image of them as “illegal,” “disposable,” or “criminal.” These descriptions have been historically assembled by the conservative media in conjunction with the state to justify the torturous conditions of detainment as a necessary element of national safety. The Huffington Post and more progressive outlets have covered the resistance.

The detention of thousands of undocumented immigrants across the U.S. results in daily abuse, such as inedible food and unwarranted punishment, while under the supervision of the U.S. government.[2] Although it is unclear if the hunger strikes resulted in any material changes, the women’s resistance embodied is a powerful act against the imperialist motives of the U.S.


[1] Hester, Torrie. “Deportability and the Carceral State.” Journal of American History Volume 102, no. No. 1 (2015): 141.