Over 100 People Detained in ICE Custody Begin Hunger Strike and Work Stoppage Inside the Northwest Detention Center

From: Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) Resistance:
Feb. 9, 2018

Over 100 People Detained in ICE Custody Begin Hunger Strike and Work Stoppage Inside the Northwest Detention Center
Migrants detained begin hunger strike, demand better conditions, lower bonds and end of indefinite detention

Tacoma, WA – At least 120 detained migrants in four units at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) have begun a hunger strike to protest the abuses they face inside the facility, which is owned and operated by GEO Group, a private prison company, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The strike comes at the heels of a work stoppage on Wednesday February 7th by detained people who work in the kitchen and just days after NWDC Resistance held a People’s Tribunal in front of the NWDC.

Leaders of the strike report continued inhumane conditions and abuse at NWDC. Strikers are demanding GEO Group provide edible, nutritious food and emphasized the egregiousness of GEO’s practices by saying “food has gotten so bad it makes people sick. Food served in the hole [solitary confinement] is hardly enough, as we received smaller portions than people in general population.” The use of isolation, particularly as a form of retaliation, is a prevalent issue at NWDC. Strikers have also reported that GEO guards constantly search the beds and units of detained people without reason nor explanation and demand an end to these searches.

In addition, strikers demand ICE provide fair hearings and lower bonds, particularly in light of recent bond amounts as high as $35,000. This contributes to ICE’s practices of indefinite and prolonged detention, as do excessively long delays in carrying out deportation orders. Together, these have the effect of keeping people incarcerated and growing GEO’s profits.

Lastly, strikers delivered a message of resistance and called on others to join their efforts, “We are used to retaliation and intimidation, we are placed in the hole constantly, but no more! We need everyone to join us and stop working!”

NWDC Resistance activists and allies will mobilize to support strikers at the Northwest Detention Center. For live updates on the strike, visit https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/

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NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. NWDC Resistance is part of the #Not1More campaign and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

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NWDC: Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

NWDC: RELEASE May 4, 2017
Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest
ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

Tacoma, WA/The Dalles, OR – Immigrants held at ICE facilities in two states – the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), run by GEO Group, and NORCOR, a rural public jail – continued their hunger strike today, despite growing weakness from lack of food. The exponential growth of immigration detention has led ICE to contract the function of detaining immigrants out to both private prison companies and to county governments, with both treating immigrants as a source of profit.

ICE has been using NORCOR as ‘overflow’ detention space for immigrants held at NWDC, and is regularly transferring people back and forth from the NWDC to NORCOR. People held at NORCOR have limited access to lawyers and to the legal documents they need to fight and win their deportation cases. They are often transferred back to NWDC only for their hearings, then shipped back to NORCOR, where they face terrible conditions. Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project affirmed, “No one deserves to endure the conditions at NORCOR – neither the immigrants ICE is paying to house there, nor the people of Oregon who end up there as part of criminal processes. It’s unsafe for everyone.”

The strike began on April 10th, when 750 people at the NWDC began refusing meals. The protest spread to NORCOR this past weekend. Maru Mora Villalpando of NWDC Resistance confirmed, “It’s very clear from our contact with people inside the facilities and with family members of those detained that the hunger strike continues in both Oregon and Washington State.” She continued, “The question for us is, how will ICE assure that the abuses that these whistle-blowing hunger strikers have brought to light are addressed?”

From the beginning of the protest, instead of using the strike as an opportunity to look into the serious concerns raised by the hunger strikers, ICE and GEO have both denied the strike is occurring and retaliated against strikers. Hunger strikers have been transferred to NORCOR in retaliation for their participation. One person who refused transfer to NORCOR was put in solitary confinement.

Just this week, hunger striking women have been threatened with forced feeding – a practice that is recognized under international law to be torture. In an attempt to break their spirit, hunger strikers have been told the strike has been ineffective and that the public is ignoring it.

Hunger striker demands terrible conditions inside detention center be addressed- including the poor quality of the food, the $1 a day pay, and the lack of medical care. They also call for more expedited court proceedings and the end of transfers between detention facilities. Hunger strikers consistently communicate, “We are doing this for our families.” Despite their incredibly oppressive conditions, locked away and facing deportation in an immigration prison in the middle of an industrial zone and in a rural county jail, hunger strikers have acted collectively and brought national attention to the terrible conditions they face and to the ongoing crisis of deportations, conditions the U.S. government must address.

For live updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/.

Hunger Strike at Texas Detention Center Swells Into the Hundreds

This comes from the RH Reality Check Reporter

by Kanya D’Almeida, Race and Justice Reporter, RH Reality Check
November 2, 2015

The number of hunger strikers at a Texas immigrant detention facility has swelled to almost 500 since last Wednesday, an Austin-based advocacy group revealed in a phone call with RH Reality Check.

When news of the protest action broke on October 28, about 27 women at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, 35 miles east of Austin, were reportedly refusing their meals.

While grievances ranged from abusive treatment by guards to a lack of medical care, the women, hailing primarily from Central America, were unanimous in their one demand: immediate release.

The strike snowballed over the weekend, according to Grassroots Leadership, an organization that forms part of a larger umbrella group known as Texans United for Families (TUFF).

 

Read the rest here.

Prisoner Undocumented Immigrants…The Nightmare of the American Dream

This letter was received, typed and emailed to CaliforniaPrisonWatch.org amongst its recipients, and is being posted here and possibly elsewhere:

By Juan Carlos Molina
CSP-Corcoran-SHU

I would like to take this moment to possibly enlighten you to a situation we as Hispanic Mexican Nationals would like to share with all of you. Our hope is to create discussion and ultimately change this sad reality. Due to being such a small population in California prisons, the majority do not understand or even realize (much less consider). Hopefully with this essay I’m able to express correctly, sufficiently, and effectively these little known conditions and bring attention to this issue. We suffer and struggle daily in a foreign land, where many of us do not even write, understand, or speak English.

This struggle not only involves Mexican Nationals in California, but also all undocumented immigrants in prison around this nation. Some of us are here doing life terms with no family or friends support (mentally, emotionally, economically, physically, etc.), the most basic of human conditions to be social. Think about this for a minute. For family members to visit us from Mexico requires an incredible amount of patience and hard work, and huge obstacles at the US-MEXICO border. 

For example, on my situation I haven’t seen my father, brothers, and some of my sisters since 1996. Why??-because my family couldn’t process the visas for them and couldn’t afford to pay the expenses to travel. In the past, I used to see my mother once a year. My family had to work and save money for my elderly mother to be able to come visit me just one time every year. Unfortunately, since 2007, my family couldn’t afford it anymore. So I haven’t seen the rest of my family since 1996, which is 14 years total and counting. 

This is just my example. Many more undocumented immigrants/Hispanics in prison suffer the same fate. Under life terms and some of us validated in the Security Housing Units (SHU), we may very well never see or hug our immediate family and friends. Imagine the suffering and heartache we endure??? Living life sentences inside ‘the grey box’ (SHU), under this daily struggle, under this psychological and physical torture 23 hours a day we wait to hear and receive news from our family back home.

Many of us came to the U.S. from very rural towns with little or no education and severely economically challenged areas in Mexico. As we can agree, many who come to the U.S. do so for the ‘American Dream’: Land of opportunity and a better way of life. A sacrifice for ourselves and our families back home. 

Due to having to put education on hold early in our youth to work and contribute to our family’s welfare, ultimately basic reading and writing much time is lost and thousands of us risk our lives and cross the border (breaking U.S. laws) and some of those thousands end up in prisons, detention centers, and jails across the nation. Fewer still get life terms that cuts off communication with family and limits it to phone calls (when rare monetary ability allows a phone call home) and letters (for those who can read and write).

This is some of what we endure and struggle with, maintaining communication: hope of seeing, speaking to, hearing the familiar voices, or hugging a family member one more time. Whatever the reason or situation, we as prisoners got caught up in the huge justice system of this mighty and powerful nation. Illiteracy, sadly, caused some to sing plea agreements for life terms unknowingly and unintelligibly and so, here we are, for life we exist… in prisons far away from family and friends back home in our country of origin. Not knowing how their lives are going (basic social interaction in an advanced, immediate access, social technical world) for years on end sometimes, is an exhausting struggle we endure. 
Not knowing English accentuates this lonely existence. We suffer alone, unable to afford even toothpaste or deodorant, indigent with no outside support.

Accordingly, I’ll now share the heavier and further sad facts affecting us undocumented immigrants (Mexican national prisoner class) in California prisons. Prison officials incorrectly clam us as gang-related, even though we (historically) no not involve ourselves with any gangs. 

Because we socialize with other Hispanics who speak our own language, we are now getting validated and segregated as participants or associating with prison gangs incorrectly by CDCR. As we all know, this is an extremely difficult and complicated situation as there is an already limited ability to challenge the validation and segregation or understand the already poorly worded rules and regulations.

Because we are only a few of the thousands validated and segregated we are still subject to these torture chambers, anti-social conditions, indeterminately housed in the SHU. As gang associates (incorrectly by CDCR), our already poor communication abilities with family and friends in our country is made worse by constant IGI interference and delays in mail distribution. These are the facts and the issues. We Hispanic Mexican nationals doing life terms seek your support and assistance along with and in solidarity with the prisoner’s peaceful Hunger Strike and the Core Demands.

We are as one within this struggle and in unity we ask all to include our one demand in solidarity with us….Which is a call for CDCR to simply comply with and for us to be identified under the international Treaty of Vienna Convention. The treaty was adopted by the United Nations conference held at Vienna on the twenty-fourth day of April in one thousand nine hundred and sixty three (April 24, 1963). Agreements that both the U.S. and Mexico signed. We also want to be included in the U.S./Mexico prisoner exchange program (currently as lifers, we are ineligible). We are a prisoner class that is in need of the humane and just treaty.

We Mexican nationals, seek this demand in solidarity with California prisoners: For lifers to be included in the prisoner exchange treaty and for CDCR to comply with the Vienna Convention international law. And our rights to be free from torture of indefinite solitary confinement (in the SHU).

Lastly, the California Prison Reduction and Cost Saving bill past recently and federal courts are mandating CDCR comply with it. We want included as a key issue, Mexican nationals and all undocumented immigrants be returned to their own country to do their time. Yet again, lifers are surely excluded , and not only that, but also CDCR will exclude us in segregated housing under erroneous gang labels.

The conditions and practices that imprisoned man, women, and children experience are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

U.S. prison practices also violate dozens of other international treaties and fit the United Nations definitions of genocide.

See this article of the US Human Rights Network for the following citation:

Article 1 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture prohibits policies and practices that “constitute cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment”. The history of international attention to this issue is compelling.

In 1995, the U.N Human Rights Committee stated that conditions in certain U.S. maximum security prisons were incompatible with international standards. 

In 1996, the HRW special reporter on violence against women took testimony in California on the ill treatment of women in U.S. prisons

In 2000, the United Nations Committee against Torture roundly condemned the U.S. for its treatment of prisoners, citing super-max prisons and the use of torture devices, as well as the practice of jailing youth with adults. The use of stun belts and the restraint chair was also cited as violating the U.N. convention against torture. 

In May 2006, the same committee concluded that the U.S. should “review the regimen imposed on detainees in super-maximum prisons. In particular, the practice of prolonged isolation”.


                                                          Respectfully
                                                        In Solidarity,
Juan Carlos Molina #K30854
C.S.P. COR-SHU 4B-2L-47
P.O. Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212