Protesters for immigrants’ rights, including group focusing on transgender issues, blocked a major intersection in downtown Seattle today to denounce a system they say provides incentives to detain immigrants.
For about two hours, more than 30 demonstrators shut down the intersection of Madison Street and Third Avenue, near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, protesting the terms of ICE’s contract with Geo Group, a private company that operates the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where undocumented immigrants are detained pending deportation. The contract guarantees at least 800 beds to be filled at the center at any time, according to a press release from the protesters. Such quotas often lead to racial profiling and give ICE agents an incentive to round up immigants, Katie Rickman, an activist with Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp, told The Advocate Monday evening.
Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp joined with NWDC Resistance and the Not1More movement for today’s protest to bring attention to what it calls inhumane treatment of transgender detainees at all detention centers, including the Tacoma center.
“Trans people in detention are often placed in solitary confinement,” Rickman said. “It's pretty awful.”
A recent Seattle Times editorial also denounced the use of such quotas at immigration detention centers around the nation. “Detention of any civil prisoner should be based on the severity of the alleged crimes, not on a bed quota that guarantees private prisons make a profit at the expense of human rights of detainees,” the editorial read. The Times cited a higher number, 1,181, for the quota at the Tacoma center, which has a capacity of 1,575.
The protesters ended their action after about two hours, and no arrests were made, Rickman said. They live-streamed the demonstration on the Web, she said, and it received about 2,000 views nationally, she said. The groups plan more joint actions in September.