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Immigrants detained by ICE go on hunger strike at NW Detention Center

Northwest Detention Center (KOMO file photo)

TACOMA, Wash. – More than 100 people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went on a hunger strike Monday in protest of their treatment inside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

Immigrants’ rights activists said a demand letter was handed around the facility before the dozens of immigrants refused their lunch on Monday.

They are calling for expedited hearings with an immigration judge, better access to medical care, improved food quality, lower commissary prices, and an increase in the $1-a-day wage for “running all of the prison’s basic services.”

A similar hunger strike played out in 2014.

The detainees will still be offered three meals a day and they will be counseled on the health risks, said ICE spokesperson Rose Richeson. You can read ICE’s full statement below.

“Detention conditions were already terrible under Obama, and from what we’re hearing, they’ve gotten even worse since Trump’s election,” a spokesperson for NW Detention Center Resistance said in a prepared statement. “We know from past hunger strikes that ICE and GEO are quick to retaliate, and we want the hunger strikers to know that they are not alone.”

Richeson said they respect the rights of anyone voicing their opinions, and will not retaliate against those taking part in the hunger strike.

Full statement from Richeson:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care. Individuals at all ICE facilities have access to meals served three times daily at the cafeteria, and the Northwest Detention Facility also provides snacks and/or food available for purchase from a commissary. If individuals are found to go without eating for 72 hours, they will become subject to the agency’s protocols for handling hunger strikes – see link. Individuals on a hunger strike will continue to be offered three meals daily and provided an adequate supply of drinking water or other beverages. They will also be counseled about the related medical risks.

ICE fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference and does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers.”

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