Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma (Image from olyblog.net)
According to some reliable news reports, about 750 detainees in a detention centre in Tacoma, Washington state, have undertaken a hunger strike to protest against the deportations of fellow detainees. To show solidarity with them, many rights activists have also assembled outside the detention centre. The activists include lawyers defending some of the detainees and other human rights activists who believe that the detainees are being treated unfairly. According to the news reports, going by the version of the administration, more specifically, ICE (the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency), the number of detainees at the Detention Facility in Tacoma, in the North Western state of Washington , on Friday, refusing their meals on Friday was about 750. However, the figure of the number of detainees, as indicated by the activists, who include some lawyers (or, attorneys) representing the detainees, is 1200.
The Centre is being managed by a private correctional services company, the GEO Group, and presently accommodates about 1,300 people who have been detained there, pending further investigation for a possible final deportation. According to some attorneys representing some of the detainees, the striking detainees are demanding better treatment, and an end to the long wait to their cases pending with the department. More specifically, they are demanding improvements in their conditions and even/also an end to their imminent deportation. As for as the response of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to the strike is concerned, they have stated that it respects the rights of the detainees to strike, but that the strike and the strikers are under close observation.
Latino activist groups and leaders have been critical of President Obama since they had thought of him as the champion of migrants – legal or illegal -- and a champion of migration in general. He is now being labeled as the ‘deporter-in-chief’ for his record, as under his administration a record number, about 2 million of detainees have been deported. On his part, the president insists and blames the Congress and insists that it is them who are to blame, since any amendment to the law can be done only by them and that he is actually a fighter for the rights of immigrants and their ‘champion-in-chief’.