For Immediate Release
Contact: maru Mora Villalpando, (206) 251 6658, [email protected]
Women Start Second Hunger STrike this Year at the Northwest Detention Center, Detained Immigrants Protest the Trauma of Detention Without A Court Hearing
On June 15, 2017, at least a dozen women went on hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). Rather than having their complaints about human rights violations addressed in the April/May hunger strike, the women noted that conditions have stayed the same or gotten worse.
The strikers’ note to supporters says:
“Judges take a long time in setting court dates, or they get sick and the dates are pushed back.”
“Those from ICE come and they don’t help with anything.” (While ICE and GEO Group have promised to improve conditions, they have failed to meet their commitments.)
“The food is worse than before.”
— Leaders, #Tacoma12
Leaders inside the NWDC have gone on hunger strike to call attention to the trauma that arbitrary detention causes them, and their families. This trauma manifests in mental and physical health problems, which the NWDC then neglects. In some cases, people will faint and fall to the ground, and nobody comes to assist them for up to 15-20 minutes to ensure that they are not suffering a life-threatening illness. Yesterday, June 15th, GEO officials carried a woman into the detention center and dragged her wheelchair behind her. As the NWDC does not have a hospital wing, resistance organizers are concerned for her welfare. In at least two other cases, people have recently been taken to a hospital emergency room because GEO administered incorrect medications, endangering their health. As one hunger striker noted, “I feel more deteriorated every day, more bad, more worse, because of what we are living through and what we are seeing inside. What we are suffering is horrible, horrible. Here they don’t care what conditions we are living in…they don’t care about anything.”
Poor and nonexistent mental health care means that immigrant detention places people at risk of suicide and other forms of self-harm. One man held at the NWDC attempted suicide just last week, the latest in a longer history of people seeking to escape the trauma of the immigration system. Although he had a known history of mental illness and self-harm, GEO Group officials left him alone in the shower with razor blades. These easily preventable situations demonstrate that the NWDC does not have the capacity to detain people without causing trauma.
A community solidarity rally is scheduled for all those suffering in the Northwest Detention Center on Saturday (6/17/17) at 12pm.
WHAT: Rally in solidarity with hunger strikers demanding their immediate release.
WHO: Supporters and allies of those in detention at NWDC
WHERE: NWDC 1623 E J. St., Tacoma, WA
WHEN: Saturday June 17th at 12pm PST