Immigration activists are organizing massive protests and vigils as Immigration and Customs Enforcement has detained or otherwise targeted at least four undocumented immigrant rights leaders in the past month.
Most recently reported, Maru Mora-Villalpando, a nationally known immigrant rights leader, received a notice to appear in immigration court. Villalpando, who is known for speaking out for immigrant rights and organizing protests in Tacoma, Wash., told Crosscut she believes she is being targeted because ICE “are not so much against my immigration status, but against my political work.”
A leader with the group Northwest Detention Center Resistance, Mora-Villalpando has organized hunger strikes with detainees and has called for equality in the detention center.
She is not the first prominent immigrant rights leader who has come under direct threat of deportation recently. This month ICE has detained Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil from the New Sanctuary Coalition in New York City and Eliseo Jurado, husband of Ingrid Encalada Latorre, who is currently taking sanctuary in a Colorado church and is a leader in the sanctuary movement. And according to at least one report, citing immigration activists close to his family, Montrevil has been deported to Haiti.
“We have been angered about the detention of our undocumented members and allies from the New Sanctuary Coalition,” said Onleilove Alston, the executive director of Faith in NY, a multi-faith and multi-race network of over 70 congregations working for justice in New York City. “We know that God doesn’t create anyone illegal but that everyone is created in the image of the divine. Now is the time for congregations to stand with stranger as the Bible commands, and now is the time for clergy to put their bodies on the line for those in the shadows.”
Mora-Villalpando was born in Mexico but has lived in the U.S. for more than 25 years. She came to the U.S. on a tourist visa and has been an outspoken about her immigration status as well as her beliefs about the U.S. immigration system.
“We will not allow ICE to deport Maru. Not only because we value her, but because we cannot allow a government agency that is already cruel and damaging to our communities to also silence our stories and deter our organizing,” said Tania Unzueta, policy director at Mijente, a Latinx movement-building platform, in a statement.
A rally in support of the leaders is scheduled for Jan. 19 in Washington, D.C., at 9 a.m.