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LaSalle Guards Beat, Pepper Sprayed African Asylum Seekers

In a shocking report, advocates exposed that 80 African detainees were subjected to physical and psychological torture by guards employed by private prison company LaSalle Corrections at the West Texas Detention Facility in Sierra Blanca. The San Antonio Express-News reported that the evidence for the report came from interviews with 30 men from Somalia who are now being held in Coastal Bend Detention Center in Robstown. The men reported that the guards pepper sprayed, beat, and shouted racial slurs at the men. One man reported being groped by a guard.

“The report also says the men were held at gunpoint and threatened with solitary confinement; one man said an official at the facility told him, ‘Shut your black ass up,’ and others said officials called them ‘monkeys’ and the N word,” the article stated.

The organizations Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), the Texas A&M School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, and the UT School of Law Immigration Clinic have filed complaints with the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and the Office of the Inspector General. The coalition, including UndocuBlack, the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee,  and Committee on American-Islamic Relations San Antonio, have launched a petition to stop the deportations of the Sierra Blanca survivors.

In his article in the Washington Post from May 2017, Martín Méndez Pineda detailed the “hell” of living in West Texas Detention Facility, “There, I experienced the worst days of my life.” This facility was exposed in a Human Rights First report to hold asylum seekers for prolonged periods, particularly under the Trump administration.

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