Brian Huseby reports on a protest at the Northwest Detention Center, where immigrants have staged a hunger strike in opposition to the conditions of their detention.
APRIL 5 was a national day of action to demand an end to deportations. Sometime in April, the Obama administration will pass a grim milestone: 2 million deportations since it has been in office.
As part of the national day of action, several hundred people rallied at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., accompanied by the “Artesian Rumble,” a makeshift band from nearby Olympia. The action consisted of making signs and writing letters to detainees, followed by workshops related to conditions detainees face.
Demonstrators then formed a picket line on the street in front of the center. Chants rang out during the march–the most frequent was: “No estan solos!” (You are not alone). Finally, a rally was held which featured former detainees and families of present detainees telling the stories of the problems they face under present detention and deportation policies.
The Northwest Detention Center is managed by the GEO Group, which bills itself as the largest provider of detention services in the world.
GEO profits off of detainees in several ways First, there is a guarantee that the center is kept full. If not, the government must pay a fine to GEO. Additionally, many detainees work at the facility, but are paid just $1 per day, saving GEO money it would have to pay to outside workers.
Detainees also must buy everything except regular meals from the center’s commissary, where prices are inflated far above the outside market. There are phones at the center, but detainees are not allowed to use their own phone cards for them–they have to buy cards from GEO with jacked-up prices.