Nov 062017
 

Sunday, November 5th, 2017
Dear ROPnet,

On Wednesday, 19 immigrants and refugees detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in The Dalles went on hunger strike to amplify their demands for humane conditions inside of the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility (NORCOR). After four days without food, the hunger strikers in NORCOR have paused their strike after winning a small victory on the path to immigrant fairness in the Gorge. Check out a press release about this victory below.

Yesterday, ICE and NORCOR officers committed to providing milk five times a week, two hot meals on weekends, the opportunity to wear warmer clothing and shoes as NORCOR only issues scrubs and sandals, 3 hours of free video-conferencing a month, improved library options that include books in Spanish, access to actual outdoor yard space instead of the current small concrete recreation room with a partially open roof and the opportunity to be seen by doctors. They were also told that several of the hunger strikers would be taken back to the NW Detention Center in Tacoma, WA where they can access legal support and have in-person visits with family, the latter of which are not allowed at NORCOR.

This was the second hunger strike organized at NORCOR in the last six months to demand improved conditions. Hunger strikers have asked why it took a hunger strike to have access to such basic things as shoes, warm meals and milk. With some concessions by ICE and NORCOR on the horizon, the hunger strikers say, “We have agreed to pause for now, we are giving the NORCOR authorities and ICE officials that spoke to us a chance. But if the agreements are not upheld, we will resume our peaceful action to demand humane treatment and conditions as well as access to justice while we are facing a possible deportation. We thank everyone outside that supports us, we can’t win without their support.”


Over one hundred people rallied in front of NORCOR today in support of the hunger strikers. Gorge ICE Resistance, Gorge Ecumenical Ministries, community members from across the Gorge and contingents from around the state came together to send a loud and clear message:
We support the hunger strikers! We will hold NORCOR accountable to its promise to the hunger strikers! We will continue this fight until ICE is out of NORCOR!

NORCOR is in violation of state law and should not be holding immigrants and refugees detained by ICE. NORCOR is a rural jail that is publicly funded by Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, and Gilliam Counties and has been housing people the federal government wants detained for immigration purposes since 2014. Oregon law expressly prohibits using state or local public funds for federal immigration enforcement. A lawsuit filed in July by several area taxpayers challenges the use of NORCOR to enforce federal immigration policies. The ACLU of Oregon has also threatened litigation if conditions at NORCOR do not improve.

Staying visible and vocal ensures the courageous hunger strikers do not experience further retaliation for their actions. The solidarity of people outside NORCOR helps amplify the message of those who are behind NORCOR’s walls. Join members of the Columbia River Gorge community in front of NORCOR for one of their daily actions, weekdays from 5-6pm and weekends from 11am-12pm! Gorge ICE Resistance is also circulating a petition demanding the NORCOR Board of Directors immediately terminate the contract with ICE and release all immigrants. For more information and to sign the petition, please follow this link.
We will continue the work ahead of us to create justice for immigrants at NORCOR and in our communities. Today, let us celebrate the victory of the hunger strikers in bringing us one step closer!

Warmly,
Cara, Jess, Hannah, Keyla, Grace, and the ROP Team
For Immediate Release
November 5th, 2017

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Immigrants and Refugees Pause Hunger Strike in Public Jail After Victory

Gorge Community Rallies in Support of Hunger Strikers on Sunday, November 5th

The Dalles, OR – Immigrants and refugees detained at the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility (NORCOR), a rural jail in The Dalles, have paused their 4-day hunger strike after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and NORCOR officials negotiated an agreement. Hunger strikers were promised milk five times a week, two hot meals on weekends, the opportunity to wear warmer clothing and shoes as NORCOR only issues scrubs and sandals, 3 hours of free video-conferencing a month, improved library options that include books in Spanish, access to actual outdoor yard space instead of the current small concrete recreation room with a partially open roof and to be seen by doctors. They were also told that several of the hunger strikers would be taken back to the NW Detention Center in Tacoma, WA where they can access legal support and have in-person visits with family, the latter of which are not allowed at NORCOR.

While strikers have paused their hunger strike, they are committed to starting again if they do not see improvements.“We have agreed to pause for now, we are giving the NORCOR authorities and ICE officials that spoke to us a chance,” shared one hunger striker. “But if the agreements are not upheld, we will resume our peaceful action to demand humane treatment and conditions as well as access to justice while we are facing a possible deportation. We thank everyone outside that supports us, we can’t win without their support.”

On Sunday, November 5th, supporters from across the state joined Gorge ICE Resistance for a rally to demand that NORCOR and ICE honor their commitments to the hunger strikers, and an end to NORCOR’s contract with ICE. Community members from across the Columbia River Gorge will continue to hold daily rallies weekdays from 5-6pm and weekends from 11am-12pm.

“We are relieved that the hunger strikers are eating again, but sorely disappointed it took four days without food to get NORCOR to provide basic items like milk, decent shoes and doctor visits,” says Rosie Schneider of Gorge ICE Resistance. “Twice in six months immigrants and refugees detained at NORCOR have been forced to go on hunger strike to have basic needs met. The Dalles is a wonderful community of people who take care of each other, and I question whether NORCOR shares our values and uses our tax dollars appropriately.”

Immigrants and refugees detained by ICE at NORCOR began their hunger strike on Wednesday, November 1, calling for NORCOR to end its relationship with ICE and to end the inhumane conditions people are being held in, including lack of access to nutritious meals, wait times of up to two weeks for medical treatment, no visits with family, a lack of recreation, an inadequate law library and expensive phone calls and commissary items, which including hygiene products and food to supplement the unhealthy meals they are provided,.

Hunger strikers suffered retaliation from ICE and NORCOR for taking peaceful action, including being isolated into a single dormitory, threats of being treated worse including transfers to detention centers further away from family and legal resources, denied opportunities to work, and singled out by officers in an attempt to identify leaders. This is the second time this year that immigrant and refugees detained by ICE at NORCOR have gone on hunger strike.

NORCOR has been facing increased scrutiny for their contract with ICE. Since 2014, in addition to housing local inmates, NORCOR has been housing people the federal government wants detained for immigration purposes, even though Oregon law expressly prohibits using state or local public funds for federal immigration enforcement. A lawsuit filed in July by several area taxpayers challenges the use of NORCOR, a publicly funded jail, to enforce federal immigration policies.

Gorge ICE Resistance is a coalition of several local organizations throughout the Columbia Gorge who have formed to support the NORCOR hunger strikers, including Gorge Ecumenical Ministries, Somos Uno, Hood River Latino Network, Mid-Columbia Community Action Network, Gorge ReSisters, Community Action Network, Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network, Protect Oregon’s Progress and more.

 Posted by on November 6, 2017