About immigration and detention in the Pacific Northwest: Despite its reputation as a sanctuary city and diversity-friendly region, the Pacific Northwest plays a large role in the detention and deportation of immigrants in the U.S.
The Northwest Detention Center (NWDC): The Pacific Northwest is home to two major detention centers that house immigrants who have been detained by ICE. The Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, WA “is one of the largest immigration prisons in the country, with a capacity to hold up to 1575 immigrants. People end up in the detention center after being transferred from local law enforcement custody, after immigration raids, and after being transferred from the border regions. Up to 200 people, mostly women, many of whom are seeking asylum, are transferred from the US-Mexico border to the NWDC each month. Many held at the NWDC have lived in the US for years, in some cases for the majority of their lives. While some are deported after only weeks, due to mandatory detention policies, some are held for months and sometimes years awaiting the outcomes of their deportation cases. Few legal protections apply to these civil detainees, and those held are not entitled to an attorney at government expense; approximately 90% of them move forward in their cases unrepresented. The NWDC is operated by GEO Group, the second-largest private prison operator in the US.” –NWDC Resistance
- Many detainees are currently in week five of a hunger strike at NWDC, demanding access to decent health care, food, wages, and the release of one woman so she can care for her children. You can see a full list of demands here: https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/
- A judge just overruled a suit that would have prevented ICE from force-feeding strikers.
- At least two units at NWDC are quarantined, the result of a chicken pox outbreak.
The SeaTac Detention Center, a federally-run prison, holds about 200 refugees--many of them women, many separated from their children. It is owned by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. More: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/immigration-advocates-try-to-determine-how-many-detainees-at-seatac-prison-are-separated-from-children/
The government has done a sufficiently good job at keeping these activities invisible to the general public. We at SeaTac Allies are invested in un-invisibilizing these activities through the act of letter writing and commissary donations. We see the act of writing letters as a radical act of love and resistance, and we welcome you to join us and help us as we seek ways to organically expand our efforts.
Some of us are scholars and activists, but many of us are new to social protest. What we all know is that we cannot sit by while families continue to be separated by a broken justice system and do nothing.