The Northwest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center in Tacoma, Washington, is the only for-profit detention center in the state and one of the largest immigrant detention centers in the Western U.S. Also known as the Northwest Detention Center, its documented history of human rights violations includes withholding medical care and excessive use of solitary confinement. On March 7, Charles Leo Daniel, an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago with a history of mental illness, committed suicide there after spending more than three years in solitary confinement. Since then, multiple detainees have attempted suicide, and more than 200 others went on a hunger strike in solidarity.

The Northwest Detention Center is not unique: There are nearly 40,000 people in more than 200 immigrant jails and detention centers in the United States, and many of them have a record of neglect and abuse.

For the past 10 years, La Resistencia Northwest, a grassroots activist group, has organized alongside detainees to protest conditions at the center, demanding medical care, clean clothes, and adequate and unspoiled food. Ultimately, the group hopes to shut down the center and end deportations. La Resistencia has set up a protest camp there to demand a prompt independent investigation into Daniel’s death.

High Country News interviewed two members of La Resistencia’s leadership team about what motivates them to keep advocating for those detained.

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