After eating breakfast yesterday, 25-year-old Samuel Sixtos-Gomez started a hunger strike at the Adelanto Detention Center, vowing to fast until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) releases him from custody.
A press conference timed with the start of the hunger strike was held outside the SanTana ICE office with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez staffer Gus Castellanos, RAIZ organizer Avila Clara and Samuel's mother Martha Sixtos speaking out on the case. The California Latino Legislative Caucus, State Senator Lou Correa and Santa Ana councilman David Benavides all contributed letters of support.
As readers recall, la migra got Sixtos-Gomez back in April despite both SanTana Police and the OC Sheriff's department admitting they violated the TRUST Act, which discourages cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities.
"Mr. Sixtos-Gomez remains in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at this time," reads a tepid statement from ICE to media. "A check of Department of Homeland Security databases indicates Mr. Sixtos-Gomez's immigration history includes six prior voluntary returns to Mexico dating back to May 2007."
RAIZ deportation defense coordinator Alexis Nava Teodoro spoke with Sixtos-Gomez by phone yesterday. "Samuel said a psychiatrist evaluated him and that his deportation officer tried to persuade him to stop the hunger strike." Part of the pitch, according to the activist, was a promise to lower Sixtos-Gomez's bond. ICE points to medical and mental evaluations as protocol for detainees on hunger strike.
"Unfortunately Sixtos-Gomez had to take these extreme measures to draw more attention to his unjust detention," says Nava Teodoro. "We're going to turn in an emergency stay of removal with a Friday deadline."
Sixtos-Gomez's six-year-old U.S.-born daughter waits for her father's return home in the meantime.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2