We need each other: Supporting a University of Washington student in immigration detention

We need each other: Supporting a University of Washington student in immigration detention

Bangally Fatty is an International Studies major at the University of Washington, but he has missed every day of fall quarter classes so far. That is because he is currently being held in immigration detention, separated from his US citizen wife and baby daughter, his classes, and his professors. UUC member Kay Hubbard and others attended his recent bond release hearing at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.  Kay shares this testimony about her experience there:

“Even though I’ve visited the Detention Center several times before, I am never prepared for the bleakness and isolation of this prison.  I think of it as a shadow prison outside of our justice system. With 1500 beds, this is the largest Detention prison on the west coast. 

“It was encouraging to see such a good turnout from the UW community… the Jackson School of International Studies rented a bus for students and faculty to travel there. Outside, a teach-in was being led by the Northwest Detention Center Resistance, other activists, and UW Law School faculty. 

“We were told that only a few family members would be allowed into the courtroom.  I stood in a line to enter the waiting area, be screened, and managed to get in. Sadly, Bangally’s family had not been allowed into the courtroom and it wasn’t clear if they would be.  I’m not sure whether the staff were inventing rules or making decisions on the spot. I doubt that they are used to so many people as well as press showing up in support of someone held there.  We waited for about 45 minutes before a guard announced that Bangally’s family and professors could enter the courtroom – no one from the press was allowed to enter.  

“The judge refused to release Bangally, ruling that it was a jurisdictional matter.  There is no rational explanation for this specific decision – instead, it underscores the inhumanity and cruelty of a system designed for profit that acts with impunity.  I hold some hope that Bangally may eventually be released, mainly because of those in the UW community and beyond who are aware of his situation, and who will continue to ask questions and demand that he be released to his family and life. Less hopeful is the fate of others at this Detention prison and at the other Detention prisons across our country where so many are held without legal representation and without community support. 

“We need each other now as we muster the courage to call for an end to this private prison system. I hope we will stand with love and radical resistance together with those who have taken the lead on shining a light on this inhumane system that threatens our shared humanity.”


Angelina Godoy, Director, UW Center for Human Rights, and Bangally’s professor shares her experience:


“Of all the experiences I had today, one moment keeps running through my mind. About 20 of us made our way into the lobby and milled around near the door to the courtroom. Occasionally a guard would open the door and someone would enter or exit, but no explanation was ever given as to who or when or how many of us might ever be allowed in.


“There was a Latinx couple already waiting when we arrived, a man in a green shirt with a tan face creased with age, his wife at his side in a flowered blouse. The man was small but insistent, repeatedly approaching the door, inserting himself in our midst to see if that might help him secure a spot inside. When the guard opened the door, he’d say the name of the detainee whose case he was there to observe — I imagined it to be his son — but he had limited English and never said much except for the detainee’s name, “Navarro.” The guard would always shake her head and send him back into the crowd, and we’d all continue milling around anxiously.


“At one point, the guard opened the door and the man in the green shirt pressed forward eagerly: “Navarro…” But this time the guard just barked, “It’s over. He’s gone.” For a terrible moment he stood frozen, and I beside him, watching as the look of initial incomprehension on his face faded into the shocked realization that the entire hearing they’d travelled there for had now concluded without their ever being allowed inside. The guard gestured brusquely toward the exit, and he and his wife moved silently through our ranks as they’d been commanded. The needless cruelty was so stark that I felt my blood run cold.


“We have to stop this. It’s not about the exceptional cases anymore. The whole damn system is rotten to its core and the sooner we abandon our desperate, unthinking desire to believe this country’s immigration system offers any dim approximation to fairness, the sooner we demand that it END, the sooner we begin to reclaim our humanity.”


Do you feel called to be part of UUC’s efforts to witness, accompany, and stand in love and solidarity with immigrants in our community? Contact Pam Smith Mentz and Kay Hubbard below.


See this story for more news coverage of Bangally’s bond hearing:




Judge denies bond for UW student facing deportation


Court hearings at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma are typically a quiet affair. But this week, a busload of students and faculty from the