As the delta variant spreads across the country, transfers to Northwest ICE Processing Center are spreading the virus to some of our state’s most vulnerable.
In 2018 the University of Washington Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) began collecting data on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flights with the assistance of Yakima Immigrant Response Network. These flights, also called ICE Air, were once carried out by the U.S. Marshals. Today, they are carried out by private businesses through private deportation contracts for ICE that are worth millions. According to Phil Neff, project coordinator for the UWCHR, the data revealed that nearly 600 people transferred to Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) in June 2021 — the most transfers from ICE Air to the facility since June 2014. With these transfers came the transmission of COVID-19, resulting in the worst outbreak of the virus the facility has ever seen.
According to the Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Health, an outbreak is considered two cases within 14 days of each other. NWIPC reported 32 cases in under 14 days. According to ICE reports, each new case was a transfer from the southern border. “My understanding is that most of them are asylum seekers …” Neff explained. “Under human rights terms, asylum seekers shouldn’t be indefinitely detained.” This number has only increased since June. At least 150 people, including nine guards and one medical personnel, have tested positive.
The Seattle Globalist was a daily online publication that covered the connections between local and global issues in Seattle. The Emerald is keeping alive its legacy of highlighting our city’s diverse voices by regularly publishing and re-publishing stories aligned with the Globalist‘s mission.
On Saturday, July 31, BAYAN Seattle and Malaya Movement coordinated a rally and carnival to launch the Duterte Wakasan Na Movement, which seeks the resignation of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for human rights violations in the country. Human Rights Watch reports that extrajudicial killings in the country — often committed under the guise of a “war on drugs” — have increased dramatically during the pandemic.
The weekend event also included several bouncy houses for kids, food and games, and local performances from artists as well as group dancing. Several notable speakers in attendance included Miss Washington Maricres Castro and Washington State Sen. Rebecca Saldaña. Both expressed support for local community organizers.
“Under current President Duterte, the unjust system in the Philippines participates in suppressing dissent both by weaponizing the law to facilitate human rights abuses and by failing to enforce legal protections,” said Saldaña, who has served as a sub commissioner on Investigate PH — an organization currently conducting independent investigations of human rights violation in the country.
Last April, the Emerald published a photo essay that documented protests at Seafood City in Tukwila from the same organizations that led Saturday’s event at Othello Park.