by Luna Reyna
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.
Continue reading COVID-19 Outbreak at ICE Detention Center Continues
by Bunthay Cheam
On Wednesday, June 16, Gov. Inslee received a demand letter, signed by over 60 community organizations, calling for an end to Washington State’s ongoing collaboration with ICE. In tandem with the letter was a press conference, “A Call to Gov. Inslee to End the DOC to Deportation Pipeline.”
The letter and press conference were organized by the Liberation Not Deportation Coalition which consists of over 60 grassroots groups and individuals that organize on behalf of and by community members impacted by the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) and its partnership with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm of the Department of Homeland Security through a prison to deportation pipeline.
Continue reading Community Group Demands Govenor Inslee End Cooperation With ICE
by Luna Reyna, contributing columnist
On Tuesday, March 30, the Washington State Senate voted to ban private, for-profit prisons and detention centers. Immigration and human rights activists who have shed light on the last 20 years of human rights violations at Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) are celebrating this major development. “This is a win of the People,” announced Maru Mora Villalpando of the grassroots undocumented immigrant-led group La Resistencia, following the news. “Thanks to all that supported this fight throughout the years and thanks to all legislators.”
Continue reading ‘This Is a Win of the People’: Activists Celebrate Ban On For-Profit Prisons
by Paula Cornell
(This article was originally printed by Real Change News and has been reprinted with permission.)
Advocates say that on March 1, Victor Fonseca, a detainee at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Northwest Processing Center — formerly known as the Northwest Detention Center but rebranded — reached his 100th day of a hunger strike in protest of COVID-19 policies.
Fonseca, 39, who has been in the United States for 20 years and hails from Venezuela, was picked up by ICE for a crime committed two years ago in Salt Lake City. Suffering from arthritis and on medication that lowers his immune system, Fonseca began a hunger strike in protest of the poor protection for the medically vulnerable in the face of the pandemic.
Continue reading In Tacoma, an ICE Detainee’s Hunger Strike Tops 100 Days
by Luna Reyna, columnist
As we’ve reported in the past, the Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) in Tacoma, Washington is run by GEO Group, the largest private prison company in the country. Accusations of human rights violations, followed by countless lawsuits, have remained constant since the facility was built over 20 years ago. Grassroots organizations like La Resistencia have been working for over five years to shut down the facility, and House Bill 1090 (HB 1090) may finally do just that.
House leadership brought HB 1090, which would ban private for-profit detention facilities in the state, closer to becoming law with a majority vote in support of the bill on February 23. “Businesses should not be able to make profits on incarceration. Private, for-profit detention facilities place shareholder profits above all other priorities. These facilities are not accountable to the public. Government officials and advocates have sought information from private detention facilities, through the Freedom of Information Act, but have been turned down on the basis of trade secrets,” the House Bill Report reads. “The state has the authority and obligation to protect persons within its borders from human rights violations, even in the context of immigration enforcement. The government can address immigration enforcement without the use of private, for-profit detention facilities.”
Continue reading OPINION: Bill May End Decades of Human Rights Violations at Immigration Detention Center
by Luna Reyna
Twenty years ago, the Tacoma City Council unanimously approved the creation of a federal detention center on Tacoma’s tideflats without the slightest objection from community members. What nobody anticipated at the time was that this federal detention center would become a focal point for detention abolitionists and human rights activists across the nation. This facility is now known as the Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) and it is run by GEO Group, the largest private prison company in the country. Accusations of human rights violations, followed by countless lawsuits, have remained constant since the facility was built.
Continue reading Movement to Shut Down Northwest ICE Processing Center Finds a New Ally in the Tacoma City Council