Immigrant rights activist targeted by deportation may stay
A deported Northwest immigrant rights activist said she can now stay in the United States, after the Department of Homeland Security agreed to drop her case.
Maru Mora Villalpando, originally from Mexico City, has been in the United States since she exceeded her visa in 1996. She said on Tuesday that an immigration judge last week approved the decision to drop the process. deportation against him, as part of the Biden administration’s reassessment of immigration law enforcement. priorities.
Mora Villalpando argued that the Trump administration targeted her for deportation in 2017 because she was defending the rights of immigrants held in the private Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
Documents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement showed that she first came to the attention of authorities when she discussed her illegal immigration status in a news interview – and that authorities were aware of his “extensive participation in anti-ICE protests and Latino defense programs.”
The ICE denied targeting her or any immigrant for political reasons, and Immigration Judge Brett Parchert dismissed her arguments on these grounds.
But in June, the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines in line with President Joe Biden’s efforts to dismantle former President Donald Trump’s intransigent immigration policies. The guidelines stressed that DHS should focus its deportation efforts on non-nationals who pose risks to national security, border security or public safety.
“Immigration judges should be prepared to formally ask parties appearing before them at scheduled hearings whether the case remains a remand priority for the ICE and whether the ICE intends to exercise some form. of prosecutorial discretion, ”the department said.
Texas has filed a lawsuit to prevent the guidelines from going into effect, but a federal appeals court last week said the new policy could remain in effect.
Mora Villalpando did not have a criminal record and his case did not pose such security concerns. She and her lawyer, Devin Theriot-Orr, asked the agency to use its prosecutorial discretion to drop its case, and the agency agreed, she said.
ICE representatives did not immediately return emails seeking comment.
“I can’t get used to it – I’m not undocumented anymore,” Mora Villalpando said on Tuesday. “I can actually get a green card now. ”
She hopes to soon receive the green card – legal permanent resident status. His daughter, an American citizen, had already applied for one on behalf of Mora Villalpando. It was only the pending deportation proceedings against him that prevented her from receiving him, she said.
Mora Villalpando continues to defend inmates, for example by encouraging those who go on hunger strikes to protest conditions at the facility, including recent cases of COVID-19 inside.
The organization she founded, La Resistencia, sought to shut down the Northwestern detention center. The group’s advocacy helped pass a law this year that would ban for-profit detention centers in Washington state by 2025.
The GEO group, which runs the immigration prison, has filed a lawsuit to block the law.