Tacoma, WA — May Day, a worker’s holiday that in recent years has focused on immigrant rights also, kicked off at the Northwest Detention Center this year at noon with about 200 people chanting “No estan solos” (you are not alone) as a van-full of new detainees were led in chains into the immigration prison. The rally marked 56 days of hunger strikes by human rights leaders in the center to protest the record number of deportations under the Obama administration and the conditions under which they are held.
Miguel Armenta Olabarria, a detainee living with HIV, hepatitis C, and cancer, called from inside the immigration prison to address the crowd about the inadequate health care he receives. He also related that ICE had informed him that he would be released this past Tuesday and stated that he doesn’t know why that did not happen.
Ramon Mendoza Pascual and J. Cipriano Rios Alegria, who continue fasting after having been released from solitary confinement this past week, addressed the crowd through audio messages. “Rights are not negotiated; rights are demanded,” Mr. Rios reminded the crowd. Audio and English translation available upon request
Bernarda Pineda of Everett broke down in tears as she told the crowd about her family’s trauma due to immigration practices. With her husband held at the NWDC since just after Christmas following a minor traffic violation, Ms. Pineda reported her car stolen last week. That simple, ordinary act nearly separated her from their four children, when police questioned her immigration status, and handcuffed her in front of the children. Had they detained her, the children would have been forced into foster care. It was only her quick thinking and repeated pleas that secured her release.
The rally ended with a caravan to the Seattle May Day March and Rally
Photos of the rally that you are free to use are at https://www.facebook.com/