Tacoma WA – Immigrants held at the Northwest Detention Center are once again adding their voices to the mounting outcry for President Obama to stop deportations. Seeing little change in their conditions following the hunger strike that began on March 7th, about 70 people rejoined the hunger strike on Monday, March 24th. Hearing of others rejoining the strike, hunger strike leader Ramon Mendoza Pascual began eating after more than two weeks of fasting. Jesus Gaspar Navarro remains in isolation after 20 days on hunger strike.
When visiting with hunger strikers on Monday, attorney Angelica Chazaro learned of a suicide attempt in the facility that occurred around 9 a.m. that morning. A witness to the attempt who spoke to Chazaro described seeing a man hanging over a second floor railing with a sheet tied around his neck. The man was pulled back over the railing, and taken out of the facility on a stretcher. Detainees heard a helicopter leaving the facility shortly thereafter. The witness reported to Chazaro that guards informed him and other detainees that the man was still breathing, and that he was taken to the hospital. “This case underscores our deep concern at the treatment of those held in the detention center, as well as the importance of the hunger strike in bringing this treatment to light. The fact that this person was detained when he attempted suicide means that ICE and GEO Group officials hold some responsibility for his attempt,” Chazaro said.
On Sunday, Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, and Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, joined the daily presence outside the detention center to express their support for those held inside and add their voices to the growing outcry for the President to stop deportations. They vowed to help spread the word of this protest.
That same day GEO Group vans unloaded dozens of detained women into the detention center, while hunger strike supporters looked on through the chain link fence, chanting, “You are not alone!” Up to 200 people, mostly women, many of whom are seeking asylum, are transferred from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Northwest Detention Center each month.