People of Northwest Public Radio
Mon March 10, 2014
Day 4 of Hunger Strike at Tacoma Detention Center
Immigration officials say a lockdown has been lifted at a Tacoma detention center where hundreds of detainees are involved in a hunger strike.
As of Monday morning, 154 detainees were refusing food.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement say the lockdown that started yesterday at the area of the Northwest Detention Center holding violent offenders was a precaution.
Today marks the 4th day without food for some of the detainees. They say they're protesting record level deportations across the country.
The hunger strike began Friday night. And federal immigration officials in Seattle say 750 detainees initially joined in. But the number has since dwindled.
An attorney representing some of the detainees says their protest was inspired by a recent demonstration outside the facility. That’s when immigrant advocates physically blocked vehicles used in the center’s weekly deportation run.
The detainees say their protest is against escalating deportations across the US. And against poor conditions at the detention center in Tacoma. They say they want better food and treatment, as well as better pay for center jobs.
Immigrant-rights activists say about 20 of the hunger strike organizers have been confined to a single cell.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman in Seattle did not immediately respond to this claim.
But in a previous statement said the agency respects the detainees’ rights to express their opinions.
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