Shocking Allegations of Abuse at Northwest Detention Center

July 14, 2015 9:47 am
by David Jakeman

One of Tacoma immigration attorneys’ biggest goals is to keep their clients from entering the nearby Northwest Detention Center. But what if one of your clients ends up being sent to the detention center? Unfortunately, if recent allegations are true, it appears that one of the biggest goals beyond simply freeing your client will be protecting them from violence within the detention center.

Troubling Allegations

According to detainees at the center, a recent disagreement led to detention center officers violently restraining one detainee. The story begins with one detainee, Alfredo Rodriguez, who had been assigned to work cleaning and mopping the floor. Apparently the officer overseeing his work believed that the detainee had left some stains on the floor and told Rodriguez to keep working. Rodriguez did not take the correction very well, and the disagreement escalated.

According to four different witnesses, backup officers were called, and they arrived and knocked Rodriguez to the ground. One detainee reported that he saw a guard take Rodriguez by the hair and slam his face into the concrete floor. Another detainee reported the same thing, only that it had happened repeatedly and another guard had kicked Rodriguez in the side several times. The officers reportedly took him away, his head running into a stairway. Another detainee who witnessed the events said that Rodriguez had been bleeding.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Response

According to a spokesperson from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the detention center officers had used “a standard technique to safely take a detainee to the ground in order to gain his compliance.” The spokesperson said they had taken such measures only after Rodriguez had refused to comply. If the other witness’ accounts are true, it would be indeed troubling if such rough treatment were standard protocol.

ICE medical professionals said they found only a light scratch, but a murky haze surrounds detention centers these days. Many Tacoma immigration attorneys as well as immigrants’-rights activists have criticized the Northwest Detention Center in the past few years. U.S. Representative Adam Smith has played an important role in bringing attention to the often difficult conditions of the center. Hunger strikes have also brought attention to the difficult situations of many detainees.

Many believe there is a real lack of transparency surrounding the Northwest Detention Center. Despite efforts from individuals like Smith, it has been difficult to find out exactly what has gone on during different events. The mechanisms in place to report to protect detained immigrants and report altercations and abuse at times feel very inadequate. Independent investigations and not internal staff alone should make detailed investigations in alleged situations of disruption.1

Ultimately, the recent events in the Northwest Detention Center show that the whole system of detention centers is untenable the way it is being continued. Private companies without enough oversight have divorced the American public from the real challenges facing undocumented immigrants in detention centers. Tacoma immigration attorneys and other activists are looking to make things better, but the whole system needs to change at this point.


Tags: , ,