New Americans Committee Chair M. Lorena Gonzalez and Vice Chair Teresa Mosqueda issued the following statement jointly with all nine members of the Seattle City Council in response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s initiation of deportation proceedings against immigrant rights activist, Maru Mora-Villalpando:
“We, members of the Seattle City Council, are angered that Seattle’s office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has served a ‘Notice to Appear’ to Washington-based community activist and mother, Maru Mora-Villalpando. This deportation notice appears to be a purely retaliatory action towards a known immigrant rights activist and community leader.
“Targeting of activists and those willing to speak up about injustices by ICE is received by immigrant communities as a clear intent to intimidate and silence immigrant leaders. The detainment and threats of deportation of Baltazar Aburto Gutierrez, Ravi Ragbir, and Jean Montrevil, and now Mora-Villalpando, appear to be an act of political oppression meant to silence a growing movement highlighting injustices in detention centers as well as with our broken immigration system. We stand with Mora-Villalpando, and the immigrant community at large, and are deeply troubled by the recent direction of ICE in their enforcement actions that result in families being torn apart and communities across the country being upended and divided.
“Mora-Villalpando is a courageous advocate for social justice issues and immigrant rights in the Puget Sound region and nationally. Her leadership was crucial in building awareness of inhumane conditions, labor practices, and mistreatment of detainees at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). The immigrant detention facility is operated by the for-profit GEO Group, a corporation with a history of corruption and human rights violations in facilities across the country. Mora-Villalpando has also brought attention to the targeting of immigrants and refugees by ICE throughout our community and country, before becoming a target herself.
“Seattle is a Welcoming City, in a Welcoming State, and we condemn the targeting of activist and community leaders and cannot stay silent on this un-American activity by ICE. Mora-Villalpando is a trusted leader of our community. ICE’s action will likely spread more fear and anxiety across our immigrant communities; the outcome of this – intended or unintended – has a negative impact on public safety and the health and wellbeing of not just immigrant communities, but also their neighbors. Our city and our state is safer when immigrants feel trust in institutions and agencies tasked with keeping everyone, regardless of status, safe to live their daily lives. This act appears to be retaliation against Mora-Vilapando and a signal that can result in individuals afraid to speak up, either in acts of protest or when assistance is needed, and that is harmful for our community.
“The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights for everyone, regardless of status, and this includes the First Amendment which protects free speech, the right to peacefully assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. It is disappointing we must remind our federal government of this inalienable right. Targeting Mora-Villalpando shows a disregard for human rights, and exacerbates broken trust between immigrant communities and our federal government. We demand Seattle ICE immediately stop targeting activists and community leaders. We will not be intimidated, and we stand in solidarity with Mora-Villalpando and the thousands of immigrant and refugee activists, DREAMers, community leaders and others who bravely stand, undocumented and unafraid, for justice.”
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Council President Bruce A. Harrell Councilmember Debora Juarez
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda
Councilmember M. Lorena González Councilmember Mike O’Brien
Councilmember Lisa Herbold Councilmember Kshama Sawant
Councilmember Rob Johnson