For the second time in three years—and for the first time since President Donald Trump ordered a nationwide immigration crackdown—inmates at the privately-run U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prison in Tacoma, Wash., are protesting conditions there with a hunger strike.
Approximately 100 of the 1,500 inmates at the facility refused lunch today and will continue to refusing meals, according to NWDC Resistance, an activist group that led a 2014 hunger strike involving 1,200 inmates. Activists are also rallying outside the prison today.
According to an unsigned press release from NWDC Resistance, a letter with inmates' demands circulated prior to the strike and echoed concerns from the 2014 strike, including:
ICE and GEO Group, the private prison contractor that manages NWDC, are targeted by a federal lawsuit in Colorado alleging slave labor practices not unlike those described by the Washington State activists. The activists' announcement continues:
An ICE regional spokesperson told WW she was looking in to the matter. This post will be updated with ICE's response when the agency provides one.
Update 4:20 pm: ICE spokeswoman Rose Richeson supplied the following statement regarding the "purported 'hunger strike' at the Northwest Detention Center." The linked ICE guidelines, dated Dec. 2008, do provide for "involuntarily feed[ing]" after an inmate goes 72 hours without food.