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UWCHR Files Records Requests Regarding ICE Targeting of Activist Maru Mora-Villalpando

Maru Mora-Villapando answers questions following press conference and rally in Seattle.
Maru Mora-Villapando answers questions following press conference and rally in Seattle.

January 17, 2018

Update: On February 15, the Mijente network published the results of a public records request submitted by Maru Mora-Villalpando’s legal team revealing that the Washington State Department of Licensing provided her personal information to ICE. UWCHR later received similar copies of the same documents in response to its request. On February 26, Maru’s supporters published ICE documents obtained by Senator Maria Cantwell’s office in which she is labeled an “anti-ICE activist”. Maru’s deportation hearings are ongoing.

Today, January 16, 2018, more than a hundred community members rallied in downtown Seattle in support of activist Maru Mora-Villalpando, who recently received a notification from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) notifying her to appear for deportation hearings. Maru Mora-Villalpando is a leader of the Northwest Detention Center Resistance, which has campaigned against the detention and deportation of undocumented people in the Pacific Northwest. Watch a video of the rally on our Twitter feed.

At the rally, University of Washington Center for Human Rights Director Angelina Snodgrass Godoy announced that the Center has filed two public records requests in Washington State, as well as a federal request under the Freedom of Information Act, for documents relating to Maru Mora-Villalpando’s case. “It’s our honor at the UWCHR to stand with Maru Mora-Villalpando and all of those who are fighting these unjust actions by ICE and Customs and Border Patrol in WA State,” said Prof. Godoy.

Specifically, the UWCHR is seeking information regarding the possibility that ICE obtained Maru Mora-Villalpando’s personal information via the Washington State Department of Licensing, in a practice revealed in a recent report by Nina Shapiro for the Seattle Times. Following the revelations, Governor Jay Inslee ordered the Department of Licensing to stop providing ICE with the personal information of Washington State residents without a court order. “Too many people are unaware that ICE is operating outside the law, it is operating outside due process, and outside the constitutional guarantees that are afforded all of us in the USA,” said UWCHR Director Angelina Snodgrass Godoy. Today, the Department of Licensing committed to provide UWCHR access to these records by February 13.

The UWCHR is partnering with Northwest Detention Center Resistance as part of its “Human Rights at Home” project. The UWCHR is concerned that Maru Mora-Villalpando is being targeted as a result of her work in defense of the human rights of people facing detention and deportation due to immigration charges. As UW School of Law’s Professor Angélica Cházaro explained, “ICE only knows about Maru Mora-Villalpando because of her tireless activism.”

The UWCHR is also concerned that the deportation proceedings against Maru Mora-Villalpando appear to be part of a national pattern of retaliation against immigrant rights activists, including New York State activists Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil, who are currently detained in Miami, Florida, and are facing imminent deportation.

Despite the deportation proceedings against her, Maru Mora-Villalpando is undeterred in her activism: “We won’t stop until this finishes,” she said at the close of today’s rally. “Until the detention center is shut down, and until there is not a single person in that place in detention, or being deported. We won’t stop until that happens in Washington State.”

More information about Maru Mora-Villalpando’s case, and a petition demanding that ICE drop immigration proceedings against her, is available in a statement by the Northwest Detention Center Resistance and the Mijente network.