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Liberation not Deportation Coalition Deliver Demand to Governor Jay Inslee, Calling for an End to Washington State Collaboration with ICE
Over Sixty Five Organizations Endorse Call to End the Department Of Corrections to ICE Pipeline
Seattle, WA - On Wednesday, June 16, 2021, Governor Inslee received a demand letter signed by over 60 community organizations, calling for an end to Washington State’s collaboration with ICE. Just over two months ago, WA Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 1090, which bans private, for-profit prison companies from operating in the state, and which will lead to the closure of the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), the now infamous immigration prison in Tacoma. As of the date of the bill’s signing, the majority of the 200 people incarcerated in the NWDC were transferred there from Washington State and Oregon’s DOC facilities. The letter delivered to Inslee demanded Governor Inslee end the practice of information sharing between DOC and ICE, which facilitates transfers to facilities Washington has now banned from continuing to operate in this state.
The Liberation not Deportation Coalition marked the delivery with a press conference, featuring three people directly impacted by the Department of Corrections to ICE Pipeline. Ayman Ibrahim, an incarcerated community member representing the Black Prisoners’ Caucus, who faces detention at the NWDC and deportation to East Africa following his imminent release from DOC custody shed light on the double standard that is the DOC to ICE Pipeline, at work, “Normally, once Washington State prisoners are successfully done serving their time, they are released home to their family and loved ones. In my case and other immigrants, we face an ongoing detention and incarceration that serves no good purpose,” In April, Ibrahim was approached by DOC officials, “in an attempt to pressure me to sign papers that included conditions of detention that are imposed by ICE. I asked them ‘Why is ICE conditions in a DOC release document? That should be related only to my criminal case.’ I received no answer. I know I was supposed to sign my release papers, but instead I was being pressured to sign and to dig my own grave.”
Tien Ho, who was recently released from the Northwest Detention Center, spent 2.5 years in ICE custody in Tacoma. By the time she was released, she had spent more than double the total time the court had originally sentenced her to prison. She touched on the harm that reverberates beyond any one person or the time they serve: “I missed out on 2.5 extra years from my son… This is very important for everyone to understand, it’s not only the person who’s serving time in ICE detention [that it impacts] but also the family as well as the community.”
The demand delivery to Governor Inslee comes at a time when there is increasing pressure against the practice of detaining immigrants in WA State. A federal jury is currently deliberating on a minimum wage lawsuit brought by WA state’s attorney general, on the question of whether GEO Group, the private company that runs the NWDC, should pay detained people minimum wage (instead of $1 a day) for the work of running the facility, a practice that people detained have gone on hunger strike multiple times to oppose. Angélica Cházaro, a member of the Liberation not Deportation Coalition pointed out, “Ending the DOC to ICE transfers would help deny GEO Group their captive workforce, one that the Governor’s own attorney general has sued to protect.”
To view the press conference in its entirety, go to: https://www.iceoutofwa.com/post/press-conference-over-60-community-groups-ask-governor-inslee-to-stop-the-transfers-to-ice. Recordings used during the press conference are available upon request.
The #LiberationNotDeportation Coalition consists of community groups that have been resisting the prison industrial complex as well as its collaboration with US Department of Homeland Security, specifically Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). We are in community with people who have experienced or are currently experiencing transfers from Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) to ICE custody. Current member groups include Free Them All WA, George Jackson Freedom Coalition (GJFC), Khmer Anti Deportation Advocacy Group (KHAAG), Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (FIGHT), Asian and Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group (APICAG), Nuestro Grupo Cultural (NGC), Sông2Sea (S2S).