Alaa Ismail Yasin stopped eating on April 17, arguing he should be released from a Georgia detention center. When immigration authorities tried to get permission to force feed Yasin after a 3-week hunger strike, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Abram denied them the ability, even though the authorities argued they would lose control of the facility if Yasin died, especially considering the major protest the officers had to put down in the detention facility through solitary confinement.
ICE authorities can still take blood and urine samples from Yasin, and he continues to drink water and sometimes consumes “Boost,” a meal replacement nutrition shake. However, he weighed 193 pounds on April 17, and by this Monday had already lost 20 pounds.
Federal guidelines require immigration authorities to review each detainee’s case after six months. Those who don’t pose a flight risk, terrorism threat or a danger to the public generally must be released if the U.S. government hasn’t been able to deport them. The six-month mark passed for Yasin back in March, but he’s still in custody.
An ICE spokesman refused to discuss any specifics of Yasin’s case, citing Privacy Act restrictions, and said “ICE fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference,” referring to Yasin’s right to hunger strike.
Born in the West Bank, Yasin first came to the United States on a tourist visa in 2013. He then took out a student visa and began studying English that year. Immigration authorities detained him on charges of using a false address on a government form and for working illegally at his uncle’s pizza shop in North Carolina, according to Yasin’s attorney, Helen Parsonage.
The fact that Yasin is Palestinian has likely complicated his deportation process, since foreign countries must agree to receive nationals the U.S. wants to deport, and the West Bank’s largely unrecognized citizenship would delay these efforts.