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Tacoma to spend $10,000 to provide ICE detainees with phone services

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(The Center Square) – The Tacoma City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution for $10,000 in funding to provide phone services for detainees in the Northwest ICE Processing Center.

The Northwest ICE Processing Center requires detainees to utilize a private, for-profit phone service to place phone calls. Tacoma is sending the $10,000 to the nonprofit organization Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest, which will distribute the phone money to up to 105 detainees per month.

Funding is to be provided in $20 per month increments. Detainees can use the phone money to call friends, family and legal advocates.

The $10,000 comes from the Tacoma City Council Contingency Fund, which provides an established amount of funding each year for unbudgeted council-sponsored initiatives.

“Detainees lack the basic human and civil rights that many of us take for granted,” at-large Councilmember Olgy Diaz said in a news release. “This resolution is one step I and my City Council colleagues can take to support those detained in Tacoma.”

According to the resolution, the cost of phone calls exceeds 50 cents per minute for detainees at the Northwest ICE Processing Center. Some detainees can contact Northwest Immigrant Rights Project for free, but not all detainees have access to lawyers from the organization.

Low-income detainees might be unable to afford to pay for phone access and face reduced access to legal support.

“It’s unacceptable that we even have to be in this position to support this in particular, but I know that this money, while not that much, will also go a long way to supporting those that are in that detention center,” Councilmember Joe Bushnell said at the council meeting.