To battle public perceptions, ICE offers rare tour of Tacoma facility

VIDEO: A look inside the ICE detention center in Tacoma

Nathalie Asher, the Northwest regional director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, led a tour of the Tacoma detention facility Tuesday.

She referred to the attempted propane tank fire bomb attack on the center in mid-July and worried about the inmates and her staff.

"Had he been successful, God only knows the atrocities that may have occurred," she said to a group of reporters and photographers.

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The center is privately owned and operated by the Geo Group.

The tour included medical facilities where every arriving inmate is checked.

"Look for yourself, the treatment is humane here. These individuals have hygiene provided to them, they are safe as they await their immigration proceedings," Asher said.

The kitchen accommodates religious requirements, she said, but we asked about complaints about maggots found in the food.

"I can certainly go ask if there are maggots. I can tell you right now an inspection is being conducted by Geo this week and next," she responded.

We could hear protests when we entered a cell block.

"This place is violence against our community. And we've seen so many cases of medical neglect, so many people with mental illness placed in solitary confinement," said immigration rights activist Maru Mara Villalpando.

"Do these guys want to be here? Of course not. Who would want to be here? But it's a consequence of their situation, of a decision that they made and immigration enforcement and following immigration laws. This is why we're here," Asher said.

The center held about 1,325 detainees Tuesday. Asher said it was operating at about 85% of capacity.

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