Yesterday's rally in support of detained immigrants at the NORCOR facility in The Dalles drew a large crowd. And not only that, but press coverage has been quite good and has come from around the U.S. and the world. When we visited earlier this week we met a reporter from Reuters and The Boston Globe has run a story as well. Telsur did an excellent job in their coverage.
As we mentioned here earlier, the hunger strikers at NORCOR won an important victory, but there is still a need to keep the pressure and presence up and to be fully supportive of the organizations who have allied to coordinate the important work in The Dalles. The Gorge ICE Resistance folks posted the following on their Facebook page yesterday:
Thank you all who came to our beautiful, heartfelt rally today showing #solidarity with immigrants detained by ICE @ Norcor. This is just the beginning of sustained resistance until ICE is out of our county jail!
Local Clergy Share Messages from Hunger Strikers
*Noon Rally at NORCOR: 201 Webber St, The Dalles, OR*
The Dalles, OR - Today at noon, dozens of organizations from across the state will rally with Wasco County residents at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR), a rural jail in the Dalles that is currently contracting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in violation of Oregon state law 181A.820. The rally will celebrate the hunger strikers’ victory and honor the courage of at least five immigrant detainees who began a 6-day hunger strike Saturday to demand humane conditions and treatment at NORCOR. Hunger strikers and supporters are calling for an end to NORCOR’s collaboration with ICE.
Immigrant detainees ended their hunger strike Thursday after NORCOR administrator Bryan Brandenburg committed to the hunger strikers to provide microwaves to heat their meals, radios and access to programs that jail inmates are offered. Supporters of the hunger strike are frustrated to learn it took a hunger strike to get NORCOR to agree to provide detainees warm meals.
On Friday, four clergy members from Gorge Ecumenical Ministries visited detainees to check on their condition and to hear their stories.
The strikers all have young children at home, and two of the detainees have been indefinitely detained for over two years with no end in sight. They shared with clergy how hard it is not having any rights, being moved from facility to facility with no warning and no explanation, and worse yet not knowing how long they'll be locked away before being released or deported.
“All of the hunger strikers we spoke to shared that, while they may not see the fruits of their labor, they know that taking this stand will make a difference for other immigrants,” said Judy Zimmerman of mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Gorge Ecumenical ministries. “The stories we heard today are heartbreaking, of parents not holding their children for over two years since being detained. We need to change our system. ICE is tearing families apart and detaining people indefinitely. We need a just immigration policy and an end to detention and deportations.”
NORCOR is a public jail funded by Hood River, Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam Counties that is violating state law by using Oregon public facilities to enforce federal immigration policy. NORCOR’s participation in federal detention and deportation processes violates ORS 181A.820, which prevents state and local police from using Oregon public resources in enforcing federal immigration law.
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, Grassroots IMPACT, Protect Oregon’s Progress and more.