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Government shutdown impacts immigrants fighting deportation proceedings

Press release by Northwestern Detention Center  |  Issue: February | March 2019

SEATTLE, WA – A deportation hearing scheduled to occur January 15, for immigrant justice activist Marú Mora Villalpando in the Seattle Immigration Court was canceled due to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. One year ago, Ms. Mora Villalpando and her community supporters showed up in large numbers outside the downtown Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) offices in Seattle to make public ICE’s targeting of Ms. Mora Villalpando.

ICE focused on her due to her work on immigration defense and exposure of ICE’s impunity and inhumane treatment of immigrants detained at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, beginning deportations proceedings against her despite a clear lack of traditional deportation removal triggers in her case. Her defense committee and the group she co-founded nearly five years ago, NWDC Resistance, obtained an ICE document that cites as the reason for her deportation proceedings her “extensive involvement in anti-ICE protest and Latino advocacy programs.”

Today’s cancellation is one of estimated 42,726 at the national level as of January 11, with 470 cancellations in Washington State alone.

“The partial government shutdown, rooted in Trump’s calls to fund a border wall, are part and parcel of the unrelenting, xenophobic attacks on immigrant communities by this administration. The immigration court in Seattle may be shut down, but the already-militarized border patrol continues its work putting migrant lives at risk, and the immigration detention centers are overflowing,” stated Mora Villalpando. (The shutdown lasted 35 days, from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019.)

The past months have been punctuated by news headlines chronicling the deaths of children in border patrol custody, and 22 immigrants have died in ICE detention centers during the past two years, including Amar Mergensana, whose death last November 24 following an 86-day hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center prompted official calls for investigations of the now-infamous facilities.

“ICE targeted me because of my work exposing the horrors of the NWDC. And those horrors continue, with women brought up from the migrant caravan now imprisoned there, and dozens going on hunger strike as recently as this December to bring light to the inhumane conditions,” stated Mora Villalpando.

In the new year, Maru Mora Villalpando and members of NWDC Resistance vow to push back harder than ever. The group will gather once again on January 20 at the NWDC in Tacoma, for a teach-in and solidarity event for all people detained there, including the caravan members now incarcerated there. “ICE has been a terrorizing force in my family and continues to terrorize immigrant communities across the country. Now is the time redouble our efforts to stop them,” stated Mora-Villalpando.

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NWDC Resistance, located in Tacoma, WA, is a grassroots collective led by undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens. It is an unincorporated association formed for the purpose of confronting human rights violations at the Northwest Detention Center. and dedicated to ending the detention and deportation of immigrants. www.nwdcresistance.org

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