Ramirez-Martinez v. ICE

This court case is completed

Since March 7, 2014, immigration detainees at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington have been engaging in hunger strikes to protest the unfairness of national immigration policies and raise awareness about the conditions of their confinement. Their grievances include poor food quantity and nutritional quality, $1 per day wages for work performed at the NWDC, and bond hearings and amounts. On March 27, 2014, ICE placed approximately 20 hunger striking detainees from the same housing unit into solitary confinement in retaliation for their participation in the hunger strikes and interest in discussing their reasons for being on strike with ICE officials. The detainees were kept in isolation cells for 23 hours per day and deprived of meaningful interactions with others.  They were not told why they were placed in solitary confinement, nor how long they would have to live in isolation.

On April 2, 2014, the ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of three of the detainees placed in solitary confinement on March 27, 2014 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief prohibiting ICE from retaliating against detainees by subjecting them to solitary confinement for engaging in protected expressive activity and seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for the detainees' immediate release from solitary confinement. The form of solitary confinement used by ICE, administrative segregation, does not require due process because it is supposed to be non-punitive.  However, it appeared that ICE's placement of Plaintiffs and other hunger striking detainees in administrative segregation was in fact punishment and retaliation for engaging in constitutionally protected free speech activities.

Prior to the TRO hearing, ICE released all 20 detainees from solitary confinement. Soon after, ICE sought to deport one of the plaintiffs in this suit. The ACLU-WA and CLS obtained an emergency TRO stopping the deportation. On May 12, 2014, following an announcement by detainees that they were ending the wave of hunger strikes after 56 days, the ACLU-WA and CLS voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.