March 9, 2014 in Region

Immigration detainees continue hunger strike

Associated Press
 

TACOMA — The Northwest Detention Center locked down areas holding violent offenders as a precaution amid a continuing hunger strike today by hundreds of detainees protesting their treatment and calling for an end to deportations.

About 330 detainees refused to eat Sunday lunch, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. On Saturday, the agency said 750 wouldn’t eat.

The lockdown of Level 1 offenders, those with violent criminal histories, means supervision is more intensive and certain privileges are restricted, such as access to phone calls, ICE said. The agency said it couldn’t provide a number of detainees affected by the lockdown but that they still have “controlled access” to medical and hygiene facilities.

Immigrant-rights activists say a group of more than 20 detainees had been segregated in a small room. They believe it’s retaliation for leading the hunger strike that started Friday.

Attorney Sandy Restrepo says the wife of a detainee talked briefly with her husband on Sunday. That detainee said he and others were confined to one cell without bathroom breaks and couldn’t move around.

ICE spokesman Andrew Munoz says he couldn’t immediately comment on those reports.

The center houses nearly 1,300 people being investigated for possible deportation.

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