Nationally known immigrant rights activist Maru Mora Villalpando announced on Tuesday, that she received a notice initiating deportation proceedings by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Mora Villalpando has lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for over 25 years after leaving Mexico City due to a general climate of political persecution. At a protest held on Tuesday, outside ICE offices in Seattle, she said her daughter – a 20-year-old U.S. citizen – was with her on Dec. 20, when she received the ICE letter ordering her to appear before an immigration court at an unspecified date.
"I believe that ICE sent me this letter and started deportation proceedings against me because they are not so much against my immigration status, but against my political work," Mora Villalpando told Crosscut.
The undocumented activist heads the Northwest Detention Center Resistance, a grassroots movement that works to end the detention of undocumented immigrants and stop all deportations. The organization was created in 2014 when undocumented immigrants at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington organized a 56-day-long hunger strike as a protest against detainments, deportations, and the ill-treatment received there.
During her press conference, the activist also accused the Washington Department of Licensing of providing information to ICE officers.
Mora Villalpando is not the only immigrant rights advocate who has recently faced deportation or deportation proceedings. On Wednesday, Jan. 3 Haitian immigrant and activist Jean Montrevil was arrested outside his Queens home. Montrevil is a co-founder of New Sanctuary in New York.
A week after, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, Trinidadian Ravi Ragbir was detained for deportation at a routine check-in meeting with ICE officials in New York City. His arrest sparked a massive protest that resulted in clashes with the police and the detainment of 18 people, including two City Council members.
In this context, the activist said during her press conference that her deportation, along with others, is part of a "war." Referring to U.S. President Donald Trump, she added: "Since this guy took office, this is a war against immigrants."
Mora Villalpando also attacked ICE, claiming her deportation proceedings are a tool for political oppression: "That’s what they’re doing. ICE is finalizing the transition from law enforcement into a political-oppression apparatus.”
The Seattle Human Rights Commission supported her stance, by declaring her concern in a statement shared shortly after Mora Villalpando's press conference, saying it is "deeply disturbed and alarmed by the deliberate attempt of this administration and ICE agents to silence Maru Mora Villalpando by attempting to deport her."
In a Crosscut interview, she asserted "I am not afraid, I am pissed," vowing to make ICE's job difficult. Supporters have launched a petition demanding the reversal of her deportation proceedings.