Hundreds Refuse Food in Growing Call Against Deportations
Protest persists in third day despite reported retaliation by facility officials
Hundreds of hunger striking detainees at an immigration detention center in Washington state continued their third day of protest Monday despite reported harassment by prison officials.
According to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, 330 people being held at the Northwest Detention Center refused food Sunday and 750 wouldn't eat on Saturday in a protest against condictions at the facility and "unrelenting" deportations across the country. However, immigration rights advocate Maru Mora Villalpando, founder of Latino Advocacy, told Al Jazeera that the number of participants numbered 1,200 people—twice the ICE estimate.
Over the weekend, in an action believed to be retaliation against those leading the protest, attorneys representing detainees said that a group of more than 20 hunger strikers were held under "lockdown" in a small room without bathroom breaks, AP reports.
On Monday, ICE confirmed that the lockdown had been lifted although certain detainees reportedly still had "controlled access" to hygiene and medical facilities.
According to Villalpando, the strike—which is expected to run through Tuesday— is part of a growing, nationwide campaign against U.S. immigration policy calling on President Barack Obama to issue an executive order to end deportations until the system is adequately overhauled.
A national campaign dubbed "Not One More Deportation," organized by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, is sponsoring actions across the country. According to the group, by April 2014 Obama will have overseen the deportation of 2 million people from the United States.