Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ICE in the skok valley

From seattle indymedia:

13 people detained on Oct. 15th.

12-13 people were detained when they were coming out from picking salal, on the afternoon of Oct 15th. The detentions happened on Skokomish Valley Road, 5 miles in from Highway 101. The Forest Service Enforcement first stopped two vans with brush harvesters, at about 4 p.m. People at both vans had permits to harvest salal. Other vans came after them but they were not stopped. The Forest Service Enforcement held people for about 4 hours, until ICE came to take them, at about 8 pm.

The 12-13 detainees were taken to Port Angeles initially, but all of them seem to have been transferred to the detention center in Tacoma. They are all Mam Guatemalans. Most of them have already signed the voluntary departure. 2 or 3 are waiting to see a lawyer.

This is not an isolated incident. It seems to be part of an on-going collaboration between the Forest Service and ICE. On the days that people go to the FS office in Quilcene to get brush harvesting permits, ICE is present. When people get there, the FS first revise their documents and then they go to the ICE people for a second screening. Harvesters said that ICE is collecting their names, addresses and other personal information. They take photos and videos. FSE is now frequently waiting for people when they come out of harvesting salal. Harvesters are first detained by FSE and then turned in to ICE. We did not know that ICE now had an office in Port Angeles, but in recent times several people has been taken there before being transferred to the Tacoma Detention Center.

There was a recent incident where another Guatemalan woman witnessed how ICE agents beat up, until bleeding, a 17 year old who was hiding underneath the seat of a van while other were being arrested. They also hit a woman.

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