Immigration detainees continue hunger strike

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Associated Press

Posted on March 9, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 10 at 2:31 AM

TACOMA,Wash. (AP) — A hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center entered a third day Sunday as hundreds of detainees protested their treatment and called for an end to deportations.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said a lockdown announced earlier Sunday was lifted later in the day. They said that the measure affected areas holding violent offenders as a precaution amid the continuing strike.

ICE confirmed that the lockdown had been lifted, but it did not provide details.

The lockdown of Level 1 offenders, those with violent criminal histories, meant supervision was more intensive and certain privileges were restricted, such as access to phone calls, ICE said. The agency said it couldn't provide a number of detainees affected by the lockdown but that they still have "controlled access" to medical and hygiene facilities.

Officials said about 330 detainees refused to eat Sunday lunch, while 750 wouldn't eat Saturday.

Immigrant-rights activists say a group of more than 20 detainees had been segregated in a small room. They believe it's retaliation for leading the hunger strike that started Friday.

Attorney Sandy Restrepo says the wife of a detainee talked briefly with her husband on Sunday. That detainee said he and others were confined to one cell without bathroom breaks and couldn't move around.

ICE spokesman Andrew Munoz says he couldn't immediately comment on those reports.

The center houses nearly 1,300 people being investigated for possible deportation.

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