Catholic Sentinel photos by Rocio Rios
Rally-goers gather outside of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Facility Monday morning in downtown Portland.

Catholic Sentinel photos by Rocio Rios

Rally-goers gather outside of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Facility Monday morning in downtown Portland.

On Monday morning, Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project and allies gathered in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Facility to stand in solidarity with hunger strikers in Tacoma, Wash.

Approximately 1,200 inmates at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma have been on a hunger strike since March 7 to protest the harsh treatment of inmates, as well as the Obama Administration’s detention and deportation policies.

Matt Cato, director of the Archdiocese of Portland’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace, spoke at the rally.

Cato quoted Pope Francis, who says, “a change of attitude toward migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization toward attitudes based on a culture of encounter.”

Aside from calling attention to deportation policies, the strikers’ demands include: improved food quality and treatment (including medical care) at the detentions centers; increased pay for work in the facility (the current rate is $1 per day); a decrease in commissary prices; and “fairness and justice.”

Hunger strikers say they will continue until federal officials meet their demands; many have been placed in solitary confinement and threatened with force-feeding, Voz leaders said.

On Saturday, April 5, Voz is organizing a local rally as part of a national day of action against deportations called “Two Million Too Many.” In Portland, supporters will gather from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Peter Church, 8623 SE Woodstock Blvd. For more information