Who Are We?
NWDC Resistance is a grassroots undocumented led movement that works to end the detention of immigrants and stop all deportations. Under the umbrella of the national #Not 1More campaign, NWDC Resistance supports and follows the leadership of those detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington demanding better treatment and conditions and the stop to all deportations. As a movement we reject the paradigm that classifies immigrants as either “hardworking” or “criminal”, “worthy” or “unworthy.” Words like these seek to further divide our communities between people whose lives are considered disposable and people whose lives are judged worthy of protecting. We reject these divisions. And we will continue to organize, march, protest, and act against an immigration system that profits off of the separation of families and the exploitation of undocumented communities. #Not 1more means not one more.
Who is held at the Northwest Detention Center?
The Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, WA is one of the largest immigration prisons in the country, with a capacity to hold up to 1575 immigrants. People end up in the detention center after being transferred from local law enforcement custody, after immigration raids, and after being transferred from the border regions. Up to 200 people, mostly women, many of whom are seeking asylum, are transferred from the US-Mexico border to the NWDC each month. Many held at the NWDC have lived in the US for years, in some cases for the majority of their lives. While some are deported after only weeks, due to mandatory detention policies, some are held for months and sometimes years awaiting the outcomes of their deportation cases. Few legal protections apply to these civil detainees, and those held are not entitled to an attorney at government expense; approximately 90% of them move forward in their cases unrepresented. The NWDC is operated by GEO Group, the second-largest private prison operator in the US.
What are we fighting for?
On Friday, March 7, 2014, approximately 1200 immigrants held at the Northwest Detention Center began refusing meals. The hunger strike continued for 56 days, and two more hunger strikes were organized that same year with strikers demanding improved detention conditions and an end to deportations.Those on strike established the following demands. Under their leadership, we act to support their demands.
- Improved food, sufficient in both quantity and nutritional value, for detainees
- Improved treatment by guards (detainees referenced a history of abusive treatment by guards towards non-English speaking detainees)
- Improved access to and quality of medical treatment in the Detention Center
- Improved pay (currently set at $1/day) for the work carried out by detainees (who do the cooking, cleaning, and maintenance of the facility)
- Lower commissary prices (detainees depend on commissary items to supplement the subpar food provided by the facility)
- Improved telephone service (quality of calls is low, the cost is prohibitive, and detainees are not returned the money in their phone account upon leaving the facility)
- Affordable and consistent bond amounts for all detainees
- More expedited processing of cases (currently only three judges are assigned to all detainees, resulting in months-long waits for court hearings).
- End the GEO Group contract for the NWDC
- An end to all deportations, especially for parents of children or spouses of US citizens
NWDC Resistance Timeline
February 24, 2014: Activists blocked the gates outside of the NWDC, interrupting the weekly deportation transport
March 7: Hunger Strike begins in the NWDC, demands passed on to outside supporters
March 9: First reports of retaliation to participants, including isolation of suspected strike leaders from general population, limitation of contact with outsiders, transfer to out-of-state facilities, and threats of forced feedings, leading to ACLU involvement
March 11: Hundreds rally outside NWDC in support of strikers
March 17: Hunger strike spreads to GEO Group-run Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, Texas
March 20: Elected officials visit detention center, meeting with hunger strikers
March 21: Representatives assigned by hunger strikers meet with ICE officials to discuss demands
March 27: 20 detainees placed in solitary confinement after being led to believe they were being taken to speak to ICE officials regarding hunger strike demands
April 2: ACLU and Columbia Legal Services file temporary restraining order to stop retaliatory use of solitary confinement
April 4: In response to legal filing, those isolated on March 27 are released into general population; at least five others remain in solitary confinement, with sentences of 2 to 30 days for “participating in a group demonstration”
April 5: 500+ people rally in support outside NWDC as part of #Not 1More national day of action
April 10: Rally at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation calling for divestment of GEO Group stock holdings
April 14: 150+ people deported from NWDC, including at least six hunger strikers, as supporters rally next to deportation buses
April 15: 37 Punjabi asylum seekers begin hunger strike in El Paso, Texas detention center
May 1: Hunger strikers conclude peaceful protest and announce formation of Collective of NWDC Detainees to address on-going issues
July 30-August 2: Second hunger strike, organizers are told by ICE and Geo authorities they will address their demands. No change is made and the organizing continues
September 2-9: Veronica Noriega, wife of detained hunger strike organizer Ramon Mendoza, stages hunger strike in front of of the NWDC
October 31-November 2: Dia De Los Muertos festival and celebration outside the NWDC to call for a reunion of families and end to deportation. Including a GEO house of Horrors installation
October 30-November 3: Third hunger strike, staggered strikes due to retaliation
December 10: El Colectivo de Detenidos receives the 2014 Seattle Human Rights Award
March 7, 2015: Commemoration of the Hunger Strikes outside the NWDC to award Human Rights Award to three hunger strike leaders and celebrate their victories.
June 20, 2015: Not1More Concierto and Fundraiser
September 21, 2015: Shut down ICE! Coalition of activists blockade the gates at the NWDC and stop deportations for the day, drawing connections between gender and environmental justice with ending deportations.
February 6, 2016: Over 200 people gathered outside NWDC to listen to the first People’s Tribunal against the NWDC and the Immigration system. Six judges listened to testimonies from people currently detained and formerly detained. The Tribunal decision is available under our Press page.
June 24, 2016: NWDCR marches with the Seattle Black Book Club, Bayan Queer Collective, and the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites in a community contingent during the Trans Pride March in Seattle.
September 9, 2016: This day marked the 45th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion, NWDCR gathered outside the detention center to hold space in solidarity with the call for a national prison strike.
What Are the Next Steps?
Join the fight to end deportations, detention and criminalization of people of color. Help us organize those left behind by the executive action on immigration, fight collaboration between local police and immigration enforcement; be part of a movement to free people from profit driven prison and border enforcement systems.
Want To Get Involved?
The NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group. We invite you to join in our movement to end deportations. Join a Solidarity Days most Saturdays 8- 11AM and/or 1-4PM outside the NWDC. Or Donate! Visit our ‘Get Involved‘ page to sign up for our email updates or get more information about Solidarity Days.