Immigrant Detainee Hunger Strike Spreads To Texas Detention Center On 11th Day

Supporters of hunger strikers in Tacoma.
Immigrants rights supporters rally outside the US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington on March 11, 2014. Reuters/Jason Redmond

The National Day Labor Organizing Network said on Monday that a hunger strike being staged by immigrant detainees facing deportation proceedings in a Tacoma, Washington detention center has spread to another center in Conroe, Texas.  The labor group wrote on its site #Not1More, part of an ongoing campaign against deportations of undocumented immigrants, that at midnight on Sunday, immigrants at the Joe Corley Detention Center joined the Tacoma strikers in protest of what they describe as exploitative conditions in the facility and call for an end to deportations.

As many as 750 of the 1,300 detainees at the Tacoma facility had joined the hunger strike at some point.  On the strike’s 11th day, their numbers had dwindled to three.  Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigrant-rights activist with Latino Advocacy, told the Tacoma News-Tribune over the weekend that the three remaining strikers -- Ramon Mendoza Pascual, Miguel Farias Sanchez and Jesus Gomez, all of them men in their late-30s – were under medical supervision and had been isolated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in distinct rooms.

Among an eight-item list of demands drawn up by the hunger strikers at the Texas detention center was “just treatment for detainees”.  Inmates in the Tacoma center are reportedly paid $1 per day to perform a variety of services within the center, from janitorial to kitchen work.  Both centers are owned by GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest prison operator.

Supporters of hunger strikers in Tacoma. Immigrants rights supporters rally outside the US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington on March 11, 2014. Reuters/Jason Redmond

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David Iaconangelo is a Brooklyn-based writer and translator.  Formerly editor of ZafraLit, a blog of new short fiction from Cuba.  He has lived in and reported from various Latin American countries.