US: Immigrant detainees on hunger strike in Washington state

(Reuters) – Hundreds of detainees at an immigration holding center in Tacoma have gone on hunger strike to demand better conditions at the facility and an end to U.S. deportations, their attorney said on Saturday.

While advocates for the strikers put their numbers at 1,200, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement that, on Friday evening, meals had been refused by 750 of a total 1,300 inmates at the Northwest Detention Center, operated by the GEO Group.

The hunger strike, in its second day on Saturday, will continue for at least five days and is likely to go longer, said Seattle-area attorney Sandy Restrepo, who represents several of the strikers and, in recent years, has represented hundreds of detainees at the privately run facility.

“People in detention can’t wait any longer,” Restrepo said. “They are human beings, not criminals, and they deserve better treatment.”