Seattle Should Divest from Corporations Profiting from Immigrant Detentions


On August 11th, I co-sponsored an immigration resolution calling on Obama and Congress to replace the enforcement oriented system with one that respects workers’ rights and keeps families together. This is a powerful message to send at a critical time in the national immigration debate.

The city’s investments should also reflect its values on immigration. Currently they do not.

In July, the Seattle Human Rights Commission sent a letter to the Seattle City Council. It expressed “deep concern about the human rights conditions of people detained in the Tacoma Detention Center” and proposed Resolution 14-4, “calling for the City of Seattle to Divest from the Private Immigration Detention Industry”.

I wholeheartedly support the call for Seattle to divest from for-profit immigrant detention centers, like those run by the Geo Group, Inc. Immigrant detainees at Geo’s Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma recently carried out a 55-day hunger strike to protest what the Human Rights Commission characterized as, “violations of due process, unjust deportations, inhumane detention conditions, exploitation of detainee labor, and retaliatory use of solitary confinement against detainees…”

In the wake of the City Council’s immigration resolution and the Human Rights Commission’s letter and proposed resolution, we clearly have momentum around this issue. Now is the time to push for divestment! I have met with the Human Rights Commission to express my support for their resolution and will be working within the Council to move it forward.

But in order to succeed, we need to build a movement capable of counteracting corporate influence that will inevitably push back. I urge immigrant rights groups, trade unions, working class activists, and all social justice advocates to contact me and organize to make the Seattle City Council put its money where its mouth is and divest from for-profit immigration detention centers.

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