Hunger strike at Tacoma ICE detention center

At least 750 female detainees have joined in a hunger strike to protest harsh conditions at the 1,500-bed Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash. The strike was reported to be in its fourth day on April 13, with no sign of ending despite ongoing negotiations between detainees, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the GEO Group, the prison contractor that operates the facility. Detainees are protesting the quality of food, facility hygiene, poor access to medical care, lack of recreation, and what they call exorbitant commissary prices. The detainees also seek an increase in the $1 a day they are paid for performing menial jobs at the center. The strike has been led by the group NWDC Resistance, which is composed of detainees and seeks to end all immigration-related detentions.

A group of supporters are staying in a makeshift camp of plastic tarps and blankets outside the gates of the detention center, a sprawling fenced facility on Tacoma's tideflats. The center houses some 1,500 civil detainees who are awaiting immigration hearings or deportation. (Seattle Times, April 13)

The strike at the Tacoma facility follows a wave of simialr strikes at ICE detention centers in Texas, and in state prisons across the country.