On Feb. 17, 77 individuals detained at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield and the Golden State Annex in McFarland launched a joint hunger strike demanding the immediate release of all individuals detained at the facilities and the shutdown of both detention centers, owned and operated by the private prison contractor GEO Group. Detained people have described living conditions in both facilities as “abhorrent” and “soul-crushing.”

Since then, the hunger strike has grown to about 100. Similar hunger strikes are occurring in other states among the vast network of immigrant prisons-for-profit passing as “detention” and “processing” centers that constitute “America’s Gulag” — one of our country’s most egregious moral failures, costly boondoggles and policy quagmires.

Gonzalo Santos, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of sociology at Cal State Bakersfield. A rally outside the Mesa Verde ICE-GEO Group facility in Bakersfield will be held at noon today.