#Not1More Deportation

All posts tagged northwest detention center

Tacoma, WA—This morning, 20 detainees being held in solitary confinement at the Northwest Detention Center in retaliation for engaging in a hunger strike were released from segregation, due to the pressure of litigation. The released detainees include 25-day hunger striker Jesus Gaspar Navarro, who had been placed in solitary confinement following a stay in medical isolation after ending his historic strike. The ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services had filed a temporary restraining order and injunction on behalf of these individuals, seeking a court order to halt the ongoing retaliation against detainees engaged in the hunger strike and related activities. Those released are happy to be out of isolation.

 The individuals released had been in solitary confinement since March 27, when United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers implied that detainees could meet with an assistant warden to discuss their reasons for being on hunger strike. Instead, these detainees were handcuffed as soon as they left their unit and were immediately placed in administrative segregation for 23 hours a day, with no human contact, access to a telephone, television, or written materials. None of these individuals were told from the outset why they were placed in solitary confinement. We refer you to the ACLU for details related to the lawsuit. Read more

Tacoma, WA – Yesterday the ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services filed a temporary restraining order and an injunction on behalf of those being held in solitary confinement in retaliation for engaging in a hunger strike. “Rather than respond to the concerns expressed by detainees,”  the motion says,  “United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) threw individual hunger strikers into solitary confinement after falsely promising them that they would meet to talk about the detainees’ concerns. ICE’s arbitrary, retaliatory actions continue to violate the First Amendment rights of the Plaintiffs and other detainees who remain in segregation.” They are seeking an immediate release from solitary confinement and a prohibition of “any further retaliation against detainees engaging in protected speech.”

The lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Andres Ramirez-Martinez, Manuel Uriostegui, and Ericson Gonzales but relief is sought on behalf of all who are held in solitary for engaging in protected free speech, including engaging in a hunger strike. ICE has continued to place those on hunger strike in solitary confinement since the March 27th incident cited in the motion. Others in isolation include Jesus Gaspar Navarro who was removed from medical isolation to solitary immediately after ending a 25-day hunger strike; Ramon Mendoza Pascual who was just “convicted” of charges stemming from the fast in a hearing in which one ICE officer served as translator, witness and adjudicator; and Army Vet Hassall Moses, who is charged with inciting a work stoppage. Work is compensated at $1 per day and ICE and Geo, the owner/operator of the NWDC, allege that the work is voluntary. Read more

Remaining original hunger striker breaks fast and placed in retaliatory solitary confinement. Former isolated hunger striker “convicted” in a Kafkaesque hearing;  the twenty men placed in solitary confinement for hunger strike grows. Despite retaliation, peaceful protest continues.

Tacoma, WA – Jesus Gaspar Navarro ended his 25-day hunger strike Tuesday morning with a full breakfast. An hour later, after speaking  on air on Spanish language 1360 am about the strike, he was removed from medical isolation to solitary confinement.  His administrative segregation order cited risk to self and the facility and participation in the hunger strike as reasons for his isolation. The conditions of isolation are not healthy for someone recovering from a nearly month-long fast.

Today Ramon Mendoza Pascual, who was held in medical isolation for two weeks, had a hearing on charges stemming from the fast. In the hearing the same ICE officer acted as translator, witness against him and adjudicator. He was convicted of inciting a group demonstration.Mr. Mendoza Pascual was sentenced to 20 days in solitary confinement. The conditions include near total deprivation: 23 hour a day lockdown with no human contact (one hour a day of solitary time in the prison yard), no use of telephone, no access to commissary account items, and no access to television or written materials. Read more

As Administration Nears Two Million Deportations, Groups Say “Not One More,” Urge White House Action

What: Rally, Workshops and March in Support of Human Rights Leaders in Detention and the National Campaign to Stop Deportations

When: April 5, Noon to 5

Where: The Northwest Detention Center

Who: Speakers include Families of Human Rights Leaders; Jose Moreno, hunger striker who has been released; Maru Mora Villalpando, Sandy Restrepo, Carino Barragan and Angelica Chazaro, leaders of the Feb. 24th action and strike support efforts

Visuals: Many artistically done banners and homemade signs in English and Spanish that say You are not alone; Not1More Deportation; Deferred Action for All; 2 Million 2 Many. Several hundred people gathered making enough noise to be heard by those held in the immigration prison. Read more

Tacoma, WA – Following their participation in a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, over twenty men were placed in solitary confinement at the GEO Group-run detention facility. According to attorneys who spoke to several of the men, GEO Group officers came to their section of the immigration prison on the morning of March 27, and asked if anyone wanted to speak to detention center officials about the detention conditions. The twenty men who volunteered followed the officers out of their cells. Believing they were headed to a negotiation on hunger strike demands, the men were instead handcuffed, surrounded by officers in riot gear, and taken into solitary confinement. Other individuals believed to be taking part in the hunger strike were taken into solitary confinement over the weekend, attorneys who have visited the center confirmed. Read more

Tacoma, WA – As the hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center enters its 21st day, Hassall Moses, detained immigrant and U.S. army veteran, faced swift retaliation after suggesting hunger striking detainees add a work stoppage to their peaceful protest. Attorneys visiting hunger strikers were informed that Mr. Moses had been pulled from the general population after attempting to print a letter calling for a work stoppage. Audio of Mr. Moses explaining being placed in solitary confinement has been obtained and is available upon request.

In the recording made on March 26th, Mr. Moses states he is in solitary confinement “Because I tried to type up a letter making a work stop protest.” He explains, “I got put into segregation last night. I printed out a letter asking my fellow detainees to come together as one people, united.” He goes on to describe how his letter was intercepted by a GEO employee, who “called the Sergeant and they put me in segregation.” He describes his reasons for calling for a work stoppage, stating, “Basically this facility is run by the detainees, and that if everybody stopped working, we could negotiate the pay raise, because right now everybody is working for a dollar. We could talk about the quality of the food, the living conditions.” He explains that he has been detained for 21 months, fighting his deportation without legal representation, and is “just trying to do this for my kids.” Between 80% and 90% of those detained at the Northwest Detention Center navigate their deportation cases before the Immigration Court without legal counsel. Read more

Tacoma, WA – As the hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center enters its 20th day, the detained immigrants’ demands have begun gaining legislative traction. With over 70 hunger strikers refusing meals in the Tacoma facility, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, whose 9th Congressional District includes the facility, announced his plans to introduce legislation addressing detention conditions. This announcement follows his March 20th visit to the detention center, during which he met with three hunger strike leaders. An attorney who acted as an interpreter during this meeting confirmed that during the meeting the hunger strikers detailed their reasons for their peaceful protest, and shared their stories of the personal devastation caused by their detention. At least one of the men with whom Rep. Smith visited, Jesus Gaspar Navarro, remains in medical isolation as he continues to refuse meals.

In an interview with the Seattle weekly The Stranger, Representative Smith described conditions in the detention center as “shocking” and “very very tough.” He echoed the hunger strikers’ demands regarding the exorbitant telephone and commissary costs and the subpar food provided by GEO Group, stating, “So I can imagine that the less they pay for the food, the more money they make.” Citing the personal circumstances of the hunger strikers with whom he met, he stated, “These people are being ripped apart from their families. Is that making our community a better place? I don’t think so.” Read more

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.


SEATTLE, WA – As the hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center enters its third week, senior officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) met this morning in the federal agency’s Seattle office with the three-person negotiation team designated by the hunger strikers. The gathering came one full week after the negotiation team’s request for a meeting with ICE to discuss hunger striker’s demands. The meeting was held 30 miles north of the facility where hunger strike leaders Ramon Mendez Pascual and Jesus Gaspar Navarro are currently on day 15 of their fast.

During the meeting, the negotiation team delineated each of the hunger striker’s demands, including improved conditions at the detention center, increased access to bond to secure release, and an end to deportations. ICE asked for additional time to address the striker’s demands for decreased phone rates, increased phone quality,  and decreased commissary prices. For-profit company Talton Communications is contracted by ICE to provide phone services at the facility, and Keefe Group is sub-contracted by the GEO Group, the private prison company that runs the facility, to stock the detention center’s commissary. Maru Mora Villalpando, a member of the negotiations team notes, “The fact that it’s not just GEO Group, but at least two other companies holding contracts at this federal facility only highlights how every aspect of the hunger striker’s detention is exploited for profit.” She added, “While we are heartened by ICE’s willingness to look into these issues, every day that passes without changes in place further puts the hunger strikers’ health at risk.”

The negotiation team echoed U.S. Rep Adam Smith’s request for ICE and GEO Group to disclose audits of the facility, with the negotiation team making a call for an independent community audit. “Given the abuses the hunger strike has revealed, it is clear that we cannot allow ICE and GEO to police themselves,” noted Mora Villalpando.

The strike at the Northwest Detention Center has inspired a similar action in Texas, where 120 detainees began a hunger strike this past Monday. Alarming reports of retaliation, including hunger strikers disappearing from their cells and others being forced to sign deportation orders have emerged from the GEO Group owned Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, TX.



Tacoma, WA – Jose Moreno, newly released hunger strike leader, spoke publicly about conditions inside the Northwest Detention Center and the reasons for the hunger strike. Speaking at a press conference just outside of cement walls that separated him from his family he said, “It’s really sad to see families being separated every day and people are tired of this.” Read more