9601191622 ba8b9ebd8d k itbn1z

Maru Mora Villalpando, middle, and Josefina, her daughter on the left, with Diane Perez from LULAC at a Vancouver town hall in August 2013.

Maru Mora Villalpando's daughter, Josefina Mora, grew up with nightmares that her undocumented mother would be targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

On December 20, 2017, "I felt like that nightmare had come true," Mora emotionally told a crowd of reporters and supporters at a press conference Tuesday morning. That day, she opened a letter that ordered her mother to appear before an immigration judge, announcing ICE began deportation proceedings.

"I will not allow ICE to tear my family away from me," said 20-year-old Mora, who was born in the U.S. a year after her mother arrived.

Crosscut first reported Tuesday morning that ICE has targeted Villalpando, a prominent immigrant rights activist and leader of the Northwest Detention Center Resistance group, for deportation.

Mora Villalpando believes the letter is an intimidation tactic for her to stop her activism. She said she has never interacted with ICE since she overstayed her visa in 1996. It was also unusual, she said, that the letter she received didn't set a date for her hearing. 

"I won't be quiet, I won't be silent, and I will continue working," she said. "There's been too many people before me going through this, and we want it to stop."

ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe said the agency issued the notice to appear in accordance with federal law, and that anyone in violation of those laws can be subject to enforcement proceedings. ICE declined to answer questions regarding intimidation.

"DHS will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement," Pitts O'Keefe said. 

In 2016 alone, the Seattle Immigration Court completed 2,979 deportation cases and had 7,229 cases pending, according to the city. The Pew Research Center estimated about 250,000 undocumented immigrants living in Washington state in 2014. 

While former president Barack Obama received his own reputation for ramping up deportations—critics called him "deporter in chief"—Trump's federal administration changed ICE policies to no longer focus on criminal cases but anyone who remains in the country illegally. 

The Seattle Times reported that arrest reports included mentions of the state's Department of Licensing information, which was new. The DOL has since stopped its practice of sharing information from driver's license applications with ICE.

Under Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals also protected undocumented minors from deportation; now DACA is up in the air—set to expire in March. Republicans in Congress are using DACA as leverage on the negotiating table over a budget deal that threatens a government shutdown.

Updated 4:05pm on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, with a statement from an ICE spokesperson. 

Share
Show Comments