The last of the original protesters who is still refusing meals has been allowed to remain in the general population, but facility personnel are monitoring him closely, a federal spokeswoman wrote of the strike that began Monday.
A hunger strike to protest conditions at the 1,500-bed Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma has significantly abated, the federal agency that oversees the contract facility said Friday.
All but one of the original protesters resumed eating regular meals, Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in an email.
“The sole detainee who is continuing to refuse meals has been allowed to remain in the general population, but the facility personnel are monitoring him closely,” Kice wrote of the strike that began Monday.
Kice said about one-third of the civil detainees — who are awaiting immigration hearings or deportation — refused meals but, citing fluctuating numbers, did not provide exact numbers of those who participated in the strike. As of Friday morning, the population count at the facility was 1,401.
Maru Mora Villalpando, a spokeswoman for the anti-detention group NWDC Resistance, earlier said as many as 750 detainees were refusing meals at the privately run detention center operated by the GEO Group.
On Thursday, about 40 female detainees at the center joined the action and began refusing meals, ICE said in a statement. The number had dropped to 22 on Friday, with all still having access to the commissary, ICE said.
Staff planned to meet with the women to discuss their concerns and counsel them about the medical risks associated with refusing food, according to the statement.
By Steve Miletich for The Seattle Times
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