The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has told undocumented immigrant and outspoken activist Maru Mora-Villalpando that it has begun the process to deport her to Mexico. Deportations are, sadly, nothing new. But Mora-Villalpando is claiming that ICE is targeting her specifically to silence her and her advocacy work.
At a press conference on Monday outside the ICE office in Seattle, Mora-Villalpando said that she recieved a letter from ICE last month notifying her of an upcoming immigration court appearance.
“To me, it’s a clear sign that ICE wants me to stop my job,” she told the Seattle Times. “It was an intimidation tactic.”
I have reached out to ICE for comment on Mora-Villalpando’s case, and will update this story with their response.
Mora-Villalpando, who heads the Washington state-based Northwest Detention Center Resistance—which protests a private immigration prison in Tacoma—originally fled Mexico in 1992 and remained in the United States after her tourist visa expired.
She told the Associated Press that her activism was the only reason she could think that ICE had come for her.
“The only way they know about me is my political work, my public work,” she said. “I’ve never had a deportation proceeding. I’ve never had any contact with ICE. I’ve never had any contact with police that could trigger attention from ICE.”
With the date of Mora-Villalpando’s immigration court hearing still pending, her daughter Josefina, an American citizen, told the Times that the whole experience has been a “nightmare.” Mora-Villalpando, however, told supporters at Monday’s rally that she plans to continue her activism nonetheless.