ICE still denies that theres a hunger strike even happening.
ICE still denies that there's a hunger strike even happening. NG

There are at least six people still on hunger strike within the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, according to NWDC Resistance.

The NWDC hunger strike began in response to strikes occurring at prisons across the country. In Washington, over 200 detained immigrants participated at the outset on Aug. 21.

They acted in solidarity with those imprisoned across the country, with people being wrongfully detained, and families being separated. They called for the abolishment of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and prisons. Many of the detainees have incarceration experience.

After the third day of the strike, the number of detainees participating plummeted. Activist groups supporting them such as NWDC Resistance had a hard time keeping in touch; numbers were cloudy and information was scarce.

This was because of ICE officers and their policies toward hunger strikes.

A Russian immigrant detained at NWDC heard about the hunger strike on Thursday. It had been going on since Tuesday. He decided to join in.

On Friday, through a radio phone, the Russian man alerted NWDC Resistance that he had been sent to solitary confinement because he was striking.

According to Maru Mora-Villalpando, a local immigrant activist involved with NWDC Resistance, ICE tends to crack down hard on strikers after the third day.

“They limit communications,” Mora-Villalpando said, “and send them to medical isolation.”

That’s another word for solitary confinement, Mora-Villalpando said, where the Russian detainee was sent. There’s no communication from the outside world; those in solitary only get one hour of outdoors time; they can only shower three times a week under guard supervision.

Solitary time varies. Inmates can be in there for as little as a couple of days to weeks at a time. It’s lorded over strikers’ heads as a threat, as is force-feeding.

“It’s always the stress to force feeding,” Mora-Villalpando said, “the guards start describing the process of how they’re going to put a tube up their nose to make them eat. People end up giving up.”

ICE said there is no hunger strike occurring.

“First of all ICE always lies,” said Mora-Villalpando. “They don’t want more bad publicity than they already have. This is the third hunger strike this year so I bet they are sick and tired of this.”