Undocumented Activist Targeted by ICE Asks Immigration Judge to Throw Out Case Based on First Amendment Violations

Seattle, WA – Maru Mora-Villalpando, who was sent a notice to appear for a deportation hearing in December 2017 due to her “anti-ICE” organizing against immigration detention and deportations, faces her first deportation hearing this Thursday morning at the Seattle Immigration Court. Mora-Villalpando has asked the immigration judge to throw out the deportation case against her, in a court filing that cites Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s unlawful targeting of her protected First Amendment activity.

“I have accompanied many people to their check-ins and court dates with ICE. On Thursday, I will face ICE myself for the first time,” stated Mora-Villalpando. “ICE is going after me and my family because they want to silence my work, which has exposed their cruel, inhumane detention and deportation policies. I will continue this fight because I am one of millions facing ICE’s abuses, and they must be stopped,” she concluded.

Mora-Villalpando leads Northwest Detention Center Resistance, an organization that was co-founded when immigrants held at the Northwest Detention Center began a series of hunger strikes in 2014 protesting their inhumane treatment. The group’s effective organizing has brought to light the abuses faced by immigrants in the now-infamous Tacoma facility.

The Motion to Terminate filed with the Seattle Immigration Court alleges that Mora-Villalpando is being singled out for deportation by ICE precisely because of her years of political activity against the agency. The Immigration Judge has the authority to terminate Mora-Villalpando deportation proceedings due to this unlawful targeting of her political speech.

Immigrant rights organizers point to the attack on Mora-Villalpando as a sign that ICE has gone beyond seeking to enforce the immigration laws. Tania Unzueta of Mijente, a national Latinx organization observed, “By purposely targeting people such as Maru who are organizing against the Trump administration’s racially-motivated deportation agenda, ICE has officially made the leap into a political repression agency.”

Elizabeth Simpson, a member of Mora-Villalpando’s legal team and attorney with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, added, “We expect government officials to discharge their duties in a fair and non-discriminatory way. By targeting Maru because of her political activism, ICE is directly contravening that trust, and threatening our fundamental right to free speech and assembly.”

Devin Theriot-Orr, also a member of the legal team, stated, “ICE’s actions in Maru’s case are a transparent attempt to stifle dissent by targeting specific political viewpoints for retaliatory action.”

Mora-Villalpando has lived in the U.S. for over 25 years. She lives with her daughter, Josefina, a college student and U.S. citizen, near Seattle, Washington. In addition to working with NWDC Resistance, she is a founding member of the national Latinx organization, Mijente.

WHAT: Press conference featuring Maru Mora-Villalpando, legal representatives, and her supporters. Ms. Mora-Villalpando is scheduled to see an immigration judge that morning, and supporters will rally in support while Ms. Mora-Villalpando goes before the immigration judge.
WHEN: Thursday, March 15th, beginning at 8:00 AM
WHERE: 1000 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

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Mijente is a digital and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx movement building and organizing that seeks to increase the profile of policy issues that matter to our communities and increase the participation of Latinx and Chicanx people in the broader movements for racial, economic, climate and gender justice.

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