Illegal immigrants detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, stopped a hunger strike shortly before Easter Sunday. The detainees demanded more money for doing chores, better food, and medical care.
Nearly 750 detainees reportedly refused their meals; nearly half of the 1,500 inmate capacity of the detention center. The hunger strike began earlier in the week on April 10 when some of the male detainees refused their lunches. Some women at the detention center later joined in the protest, the Seattle Times reported.
Protesters planned to fast for at least three days because the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency reportedly does not recognize hunger strikes that are any shorter.
All but one detention hold-out had stopped the strike by Saturday morning, said a spokeswoman for ICE.
The detention facility was at the center of a publicized hunger strike in 2014 when Time reported that Paulino Ruiz “was sick of eating a boiled potato at every meal.” He also reportedly claimed to be fed-up with the $1-a-day he received for doing custodial chores. He further alleged harsh treatment by detention center personnel. Ruiz is a legal resident who came to the United States at the age of three. He was scheduled for removal by immigration officers after he served prison time for robbery. All but just a handful of inmates stopped their strike after it had gone on for more than a week, Time reported.
Breitbart Texas reported in mid-April that more than 60,000 illegal aliens that were housed in a Colorado detention center are suing the federal contractor who operates the detention center. They allege the facility compelled “forced labor” in violation of federal human trafficking laws and are seeking money damages and restitution. Lawyers for the GEO Group, Inc. counter that no other court has ever recognized trafficking or unjust enrichment claims for cleaning bathrooms, serving meals, doing laundry, and performing other housekeeping duties. There is a supervised program of daily cleaning by all detainees, and GEO implements these requirements “through an ICE-approved program.” “Nobody trafficked them there,” the defendant argued in a motion filed with the court which authorized the class action lawsuit.