Hey guys. Did you know that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a massive detention center in Tacoma? Anyway, it’s where detainees are held for an average of 37 days before getting sent to elsewhere, whether to another ICE facility or out of the country… and word on the street is that, surprise surprise, it really blows in there.
154 detainees are currently on hunger strike — anywhere between 750 and 1,200 over this past weekend — demanding not just better conditions for themselves, but record-level deportations across the country. KUOW reports:
The detainees said their protest is against escalating deportations across the U.S. and poor conditions at the detention center in Tacoma. They said they want better food and treatment, as well as better pay for center jobs.
Immigrant-rights activists said about 20 of the hunger strike organizers have been confined to a single cell.
20 people to a cell.
The Stranger got some more details from a lawyer involved with the striking detainees:
This appears to be the first instance of collective action against conditions at the facility by detainees in its history. They’re not eating and not working—the detainees are paid $1 per day, the lawyer says, to work in the kitchen and in clean up crews. In response, “those who are more actively involved are getting their blankets, pillows, and clothes taken away,” the lawyer says.
ICE has previously said that they respect “the detainees’ rights to express their opinions,” says KUOW. That’s… nice.
Okay guys, here’s the deal: No matter what your opinion is on the best way to handle citizens of another country living here illegally is, human beings deserve to be treated with dignity — and hunger strikes are serious business. Once you’ve been without food for four days, you’re not just “expressing [an] opinion,” you’re demanding change — and that demand at least deserves a response.