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Immigrant Hunger Strike Resumes At Tacoma, Wash. Detention Facility

Detainees have resumed a hunger strike at an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Wash., according to Reuters. The protesters in the facility have been demanding improved conditions at the privately run facility as well as an end to deportations of illegal immigrants by the Obama administration.

A story by The National Memo reported that the original hunger strike began at the Northwest Detention Center earlier in the month. It was estimated that some 750 detainees took part in that protest. Their numbers have dwindled in the subsequent weeks, with only one holdout remaining. Jesus Gaspar Navarro has not eaten since March 6. He is under medical observation in compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy.

A new round of hunger strikes, though, began on Monday, as detainees have not seen conditions improve. The new protest coincided with a suicide attempt at the the detention center. 

Angelica Chazaro, an immigration attorney and professor at the University of Washington, said about 70 inmates began refusing food on Monday but asserted that the suicide attempt did not precipitate the event. 

The unrest in the facility parallels the feelings of detainees at other facilities in the country. Similar protests have occurred in Arizona and Texas. 

Jessica Ramirez, of the activist group Not One More Deportation, said that detainees had met with ICE officials recently to request better food and safer working conditions. Those held at the facility are paid a dollar per day for work they perform.

Groups like Not One More Deportation and the detainees at facilities across the country are frustrated by the Obama administration’s current deportation policy.

Democracy Now! reported that deportations under President Barack Obama are approaching 2 million. The story there included quotes from some detainees at the Tacoma facility as they explained what they were asking for in the initial hunger strike.

“Our main goal was to bring to light the situation with the immigration reform, which is just being talked about, but there’s really no changes happening," one participant said. "So we felt like, you know, we have to do our part to speak up and say something.”

Sources: Reuters, The National Memo, Democracy Now!


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