Every second Saturday of the month there is a Vigil in support of the rights of immigrants at the Northwest Detention Center. This past Saturday we had a march!
The detention center is controlled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but is run by the GEO Corp a for profit corporation who has ties to Guantanamo amongst other nefarious prison complexes. It holds 1,000 immigrants but is increasing to hold 1,500 none of whom are there because they are serving terms as criminals in prison.
Mostly Mexicans, around 50%, the average stay is close to 30 days if you sign papers saying you willingly want to be deported. However if you fight deportation you may get held there for 11 months to over 4 years. This is not punishment for a crime.
While many get referred here from Idaho, Oregon and Washington after getting picked up by the police, all jail time is served before they are sent to the facility. Some may have been placed here after a routine traffic infraction or for being brown while driving, others may have been picked up on home or business raids. Some are US citizens and are detained through confusion or because they don't have their papers on them.
The conditions under which they are held are deplorable ones with many getting sick from food poisoning as one recent example. If released they are dumped jobless, homeless and without money onto the streets of Tacoma, their old lives ruined.