Maru Mora Villalpando, the local immigrant rights activist who faces deportation after publically sharing her story, will be at University of Puget Sound on Wednesday, March 28, from noon to 2 p.m., for a public conversation.
The event, organized by concerned students and faculty members, aims to show public support for dismissal of her case and to protest the deportation politics and rights infringement that her case has revealed. Everyone is welcome to “Defend the Defender: You Can’t Deport a Movement,” in Trimble Forum, Trimble Hall. A map of campus is below.
When Maru Mora Villalpando shared her story and her undocumented status in the local media, she had no idea that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) would use that information to issue a deportation notice against her. After all, Mora Villalpando, the founding member of Northwest Detention Center Resistance, has lived in the United States for 25 years and has been a vocal, public face in the fight for detainee rights for quite some time. Documents obtained by ICE from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell’s office reveal that Homeland Security officials identified Mora Villalpando through an interview published in Whatcom Watch, noted her lack of criminal history, and marked her as an “anti-ICE protester.”
At her first deportation hearing on March 15, Mora Villalpando’s lawyer asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing Immigration and Customs Enforcement had unlawfully targeted her because of her pro-immigration stance and anti-ICE statements. Mora Villalpando returns to court on May 22. In addition to Senator Cantwell’s actions, all nine members of the Seattle City Council have issued a statement in her support.
John Lear, professor of history at UPS, says that concerned students, faculty, and staff at the university condemn such tactics that represent a new phase in President Trump’s anti-immigrant crusade, essentially silencing protest and free speech by targeting known immigrant rights activists. Lear says they endorse the recent statement of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that “People working legitimately to protect migrants’ rights must not be restricted or silenced.”