Northwest Detention Center Criticized, Again

April 11, 2016 10:54 am
by David Jakeman

It’s hard to remember the last time there was any positive news coming out about the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). The NWDC is run by the GEO Group, which is a private prison contractor that runs many different detention facilities. Seattle-Tacoma area immigration attorneys are familiar with the center, and they know there are a number of negative stories that have come out about the facility. A recent story about one detainee’s trouble obtaining medical care is just one more in the steady drip of sobering tales of a broken immigration system.

Difficulty in Tacoma’s Detention Center

There is a recent story of one detainee by the name of Angel Padilla, who tells of feeling nauseous and dizzy while in the detention center. He asked through a small hole in the door for the guard to call a nurse to him. The guard reportedly refused, saying he had no medical appointments, so he wasn’t authorized to.

Padilla reportedly stumbled from the door, threw up, and passed out. He awoke to find himself lying on the floor. One guard pulled him to his feet and walked him toward the door, and another guard told him to sit him down and to not make him walk. A nurse was called, he was prescribed some medication for his pain after being transferred to a nearby medical center, and then returned later that day.

ICE, not surprisingly, contests the idea that Padilla was somehow mistreated. They say that he complained of abdominal pain and was then treated. They argue that he was treated according to the law and human-rights standards. Padilla is slated to be treated for a cancerous tumor and then deported to El Salvador.

Other Opinions of NWDC

Sea-Tac immigration lawyers are familiar with the standard ICE response. They are also very much aware of the NWDC’s reputation, including tales of harsh treatment from guards, solitary confinement, and unpalatable food. Last year, a number of hunger strikes broke out within the center, and there have also been numerous instances of activists linking arms to bar entrances and exists.

There have also been stories of delayed medical treatment, and at times, outright refusal to treat medical conditions. It is, at its base level, a story of incentives. The GEO Group that contracts with ICE to run the facility has a guaranteed contract for ten years that promises ICE will cover the price of half the beds, and therefore provide a base level of funds for the GEO Group.1 There is little incentive for the GEO Group to spend money anywhere, because those costs can eat into their profits.

It’s difficult to tackle problems of these proportions. The NWDC is emblematic of a number of societal problems: A broken immigration system, dehumanization of undocumented immigrants, and toxic political rhetoric. Many are frustrated with President Obama, who has deported more individuals than any other U.S. president who preceded him. There is a real need for better treatment of detainees in the Northwest Detention Center.

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