Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More than 400 Immigrants Join Hunger Strike at Tacoma Immigration Prison

Over 100 immigrants incarcerated at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) refused their lunch on Monday this week, launching a hunger strike to protest their treatment inside the immigration prison. Supporters who rallied outside the facility received constant updates from people detained as more pods (housing units inside the facility) joined the call to not eat, not to use the phones, and not to buy from the commissary.

Work Stoppage

By Tuesday morning over 400 people had begun refusing meals, with reports of strikers in 9 different pods throughout the facility. Incarcerated immigrants are currently paid $1 a day to clean and provide upkeep for the the facility, cook the meals, and do the laundry. However, in at least four pods, the people detained also called for a work stoppage, throwing the immigration prison’s functions into chaos.

Protest Conditions

On the second day of the hunger strike, ICE moved forward with their planned Tuesday morning deportations, with two buses emblazoned with the GEO Group logo leaving the facility, each filled with people. Additionally, ICE cancelled the daily immigration courts hearings, attempting to break the unity and morale of those on hunger strike by halting the hearings some immigrants had waited months for. Hunger strikers also reported that GEO guards were blocking television access, barring strikers from watching news accounts of their efforts.

Despite the retaliation, the strike continued, with participant Alejandro Macias noting that losing his freedom emboldened him to strike, "We won't give up, what else can they do to us? These abuses must end.” Another hunger striker, detained artist Juan Manuel with the popular musical group Raza Obrera, has begun writing a song about the strike, saying, “We are united and we won't stop, we need to be treated fairly. We are humans beings not animals.”

Outside Supporters

Community members set up an encampment at the gates of the facility, planning to stay for the duration of the strike. For ongoing updates, visit