Immigrants have gone on hunger strikes over the past month to protest conditions inside detention facilities, prompting officials to force-feed six of them through plastic nasal tubes at a Texas location, The Associated Press has learned.

More detainees are refusing food at the El Paso Processing Center than at any other ICE facility, and lawyers say some detainees are losing weight rapidly after not eating or drinking for more than 30 days. Detainees, a relative and an attorney told the AP that nearly 30 men in the El Paso, Texas ICE detention center, mostly from India and Cuba, have been striking there to protest what they say is rampant verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards. They are also upset about lengthy lock-ups while awaiting legal proceedings.

ICE confirmed Thursday there are 11 detainees in El Paso who are on hunger strikes — which means they have refused nine consecutive meals — and an additional four in the agency's Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco areas of responsibility, according to agency spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa.

In mid-January, two weeks after they stopped eating, a federal judge authorized force-feeding of some El Paso detainees, Zamarripa said. She did not address the detainees' allegations of abuse but did say the El Paso Processing Center would closely monitor the food and water intake of detainees to protect their health and safety.

The men with nasal tubes are having persistent nose bleeds, and are vomiting several times a day, said Amrit Singh, whose two nephews from the Indian state of Punjab have been on hunger strike for about a month.

"They are not well. Their bodies are really weak, they can't talk and they have been hospitalized, back and forth," said Singh, from California. "They want to know why they are still in the jail and want to get their rights and wake up the government immigration system."

Singh's nephews are both seeking asylum. Court records show they pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in September after illegally walking across the border near El Paso.

Hunger strikes are uncommon and court orders authorizing force-feeding are exceedingly rare, said an ICE official. Although the agency doesn't keep statistics on this, attorneys, advocates and ICE staffers AP spoke with did not recall a situation where it's come to this.

To force-feed someone, medical experts typically wind a tube tightly around their finger to make it bend easily, and put lubricant on the tip, before shoving it into a patient's nose. The patient has to swallow sips of water while the tube is pushed down their throat. It can be very painful.