For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Maru Mora Villalpando (206) 251-6658  Alex West (508) 246-8341

NW Detention Center Threatens Life of Gay HIV positive, Hep C positive Cancer Survivor Seeking Humanitarian Release

TACOMA, Washington - WHAT: Immigrant activists and community members will rally and make birthday wishes to support Miguel Angel Armenta Olabarria, a courageous leading figure in last spring’s historic 1200-person hunger strike at the NW Detention Center in Tacoma, as he seeks humanitarian release and asylum.

WHO: Miguel is a gay activist, artist and farmworker detained last March by border patrol. He is battling HIV, Hepatitis C and a history of cancer while in detention. Miguel has lived in the U.S. for 22 years, is married to a U.S. citizen, and has a rich history of involvement with AIDS and LGBTQ organizations and involvement with his church and community. Miguel is asking ICE to grant him humanitarian release from detention so that he can access appropriate medical care and return to working to help support his husband, Dennis. Miguel is supported by his sister, his husband, friends from his MCC Church community in the Tri Cities, as well as community activists and migrant justice organizers who will be holding a rally and later a three-day peaceful encampment protest in front of the NWDC for the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) October 31st through November 2nd.

WHEN: Rally at NW Detention Center Thursday, October 30th at 12:00PM prior to asylum hearing at 1:00PM, also at NW Detention Center, 1623 E J St, Tacoma, WA 98421.

WHY: Though Miguel is calling upon national and local HIV, LGBTQ and faith advocacy organizations to help convince his ICE officers to grant his release, he faces an uphill battle. ICE is not known for its sensitivity to detainee health, as evidenced by the starvation-quality meals Geo Group serves at the detention center and its choice to subject Miguel and other hunger strike leaders to solitary confinement, what most human rights lawyers consider torture. Miguel receives small respite for his medical condition in the form of visits to doctors; however during his appointments, Miguel is kept in handcuffs, leg chains, and ankle bracelets, contrary to the professional requests of his doctors. He must be released from detention in order to receive adequate medical care.

HOW: When asked what Miguel wants for his birthday, he said, “Freedom, family, and a piece of cake with a glass of whole milk.” Activists will mark Miguel’s birthday (November 2nd) with a birthday cake, making wishes on candles and in cards to send him. They will use colorful banners and chants to dramatize the injustice of Miguel and other immigrants’ detention at the NWDC and detention’s hazardous health impacts. Media may conduct interviews.


NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that came together to stop deportations earlier this year at the now infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA under the Not1more campaign umbrella, and which then supported the two-month long hunger strike organized by immigrants detained there calling a stop to deportations and better treatment and conditions.


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