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Members of WA Congressional Delegation Request DHS OIG Investigation of NWDC

December 3, 2020

Dec. 3, 2020 letter from members of WA Congressional delegation to DHS Inspector General.

Dec. 3, 2020 letter from members of WA Congressional delegation to DHS Inspector General.

On December 3, 2020, members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General requesting an “immediate investigation into the recent allegations of violence against detained immigrants and a comprehensive review of the use of solitary confinement at the [Northwest Detention Center]”.

The letter, signed by Members of Congress Adam Smith, Pramila Jayapal, Derek Kilmer, and Denny Heck, and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, cites a recent UW Center for Human Rights report regarding the use of solitary confinement at the Northwest Detention Center, as well as reports of ongoing hunger strikes and allegations of brutality against detained people.

In recent weeks, UWCHR community research partner La Resistencia have shared statements from people detained at NWDC reporting acts of brutality against detained people, including the use of pepper spray and a guard allegedly kneeling on a detained person’s neck; quarantines following potential COVID-19 exposure, and hunger strikes.

Crosscut has also published a report by journalist Lilly Fowler revealing new documents detailing ICE and GEO Group’s response to the 2018 suicide of asylum seeker Mergensana Amar while in solitary confinement at the Northwest Detention Center, showing that ICE officials did not follow agency guidelines requiring public notification of a detainee’s death within 24 to 48 hours.

Read reports from the UW Center for Human Rights’ ongoing series on human rights conditions at the Northwest Detention Center.

Northwest Detention Center Letter to OIG December 2020 (PDF)