Posts Tagged ‘Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma’

A Poet’s Lives with Lyn Coffin

February 15, 2011

Editor’s Note:  You must realize that Poets are like the Biblical Prophets of Old who – after living for months in the desert on a ‘totally organic, free-range-grown’ diet of honey and grasshoppers – trundle into town to deliver God’s Word to the King and other inhabitants.   I tell them: “No Politics!”  But they must weigh on the one hand what their Editor says against what God says.  “Think of your EDITOR, as God,” I say.  But here you have it:

"I spent almost two hours yesterday at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma...!!"

“I spent almost two hours yesterday at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. This is a windowless barbed wire prison run by GEO, the same people who run Guantanamo. This is one of the biggest privately-held prison companies in the world, and they get $122 a day from the federal government (tax dollars) to house people who are picked up, as three weeks ago in Ellensburg, in the dead of night by men with guns drawn (heck, maybe some women, too)- and literally dragged from their homes and stuck in this prison with no rights. Families wait in the cold to be let in for visits in scenes reminscent of Stalinist Russia. Visitors are not allowed to take in pencils or paper because they might be able to write down information. Their families don’t know where they are- 15 of the 30 people captured in Ellensburg were sent to Spokane and 15 to Tacoma. A man died in this prison recently. He was from Cambodia and since there is no legal right to a translator, nobody understood anything other than he was complaining of a stomach ache. He died, perhaps from appendicitis. And if you’re thinking “wetbacks,” people coming in over the border from Mexico in the last few years, and hiding out in basements and so on, forget it. Most of the people I talked to came to the U.S. as small children. Their parents, because of the cost, because of the hassle, because in those days we weren’t a proto-fascist state (and for my money, you can drop the proto)- the kids never officially became citizens. So there’s this girl who came to the US when she was six (from Cambodia) and in high school she meets this great guy who came to this country when he was seven. And it’s a high school romance. And they grow up and have kids and jobs and social security and pay taxes and work and contribute and don’t do anything wrong and then one night– He’s picked up, and stuck in a nightmare, and it takes a long while before she even finds out, more or less by rumor, where he is. And so now she drives to see him from a town two and a half hours away, and he’s been in there five months, and it could be years, though recently she was told to bring a suitcase, which generally means deportation will come soon, and he’ll be “returned” to a country where he doesn’t speak the language, torn away from his wife and kids. But it’ll probably be better foe him than in the US where people’s human rights have been rolled over by the tank of corporate greed.
And that’s what this poet has to say.”  – Lyn

Photo taken – completely out of context (again!) – by Carl Nelson

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