Highlighting what they say is a "global human rights issue," dozens of rights campaigners on Monday morning locked themselves together and formed a human chain to block buses at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Takoma, Washington from carrying out deportations of suspected undocumented people.
The action, still ongoing at the time of publication, also looks beyond stopping Monday's buses, with participants calling for an end to the "criminalization and scapegoating of immigrants" in the United States and the "moral injustice of privately-run for-profit detentions centers and their collaboration with local police departments creating a road to detention." In addition, protesters are demanding a halt to "all immigrant deportations and detentions," according to a press statement.
"The government could close these detention centers today and end the practice of corporations profiting from imprisoning human beings, ensure all its residents have access to quality food and healthy homes, and change its international policies to create fair trade for people and the planet," said undocumented immigrant Maru Mora-Villalpando from the human chain, where she stood alongside her daughter Josefina Mora.
"People should not be forced to migrate, and those already here should be allowed to remain with their families and communities," Mora-Villalpando continued.
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Owned by for-profit prison company GEO Group, NWDC is the site of repeated hunger strikes, led by incarcerated people demanding humane conditions, release, and family reunification. Monday's action is organized by the Northwest Detention Center Resistance Coalition, with participants and supporters from organizations including Rising Tide Seattle and the Raging Grannies. Members of the Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp also carried signs calling attention to the abuse of transgender people in ICE custody.
The direct action comes amid growing concerns over the treatment of refugees and immigrants in the United States. A recent report from a federal government-appointed commission finds that people displaced by violence and poverty in predominantly Latin American countries are being forced into "detention centers" that are plagued with human rights abuses.
Footage from Monday's action can be viewed on the following live-stream: