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After 15 years of mass detention in Washington state, resistance grows

Marú Villalpando Mora  |  Issue: July | August 2019

A year after retaliatory deportations proceedings against undocumented activist began, Maru Mora Villalpando once again appeared before an immigration judge.

After more than a year fighting a retaliatory deportation proceeding against me and my work, and 15 years of fighting against one of the largest detention centers in the West Coast opening in Tacoma, Washington, our group gets ready to continue fighting all detentions and deportations in our state, and our movement keeps growing.

As I faced my latest immigration court hearing in Seattle last April, I was accompanied by my family, my group “La Resistencia (formerly known as NWDC Resistance),” and community support.

As we went upstairs to the courtroom, we saw all types of families and people also waiting to face the immigration judge. We saw two pregnant women, and one woman with an infant, fighting to stay in the country. We also saw two children with their lawyers, one not older than five years old, and one adolescent whose files were mixed up with another minor’s and was told it was the asylum office’s fault. Both children were in deportation proceedings. Most people were in the room without legal representation.

I was told to go back to another hearing on November 5 and I will come back with my entire support network, knowing we will continue fighting to end all deportations, not only mine.

Our work in exposing violations of human rights at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma has made me a target of the immigration system. La Resistencia put the facility on the map beginning in 2014, when we began supporting hunger strikes in the detention center. As of today, at least 18 hunger strikes at the NWDC have been recorded and supported by us.

As La Resistencia continues fighting to end the detention and deportation of people in Washington state, it has added stopping my possible deportation to its agenda.

“We continue working with people detained, and we continue working to prevent Trump’s police, ICE, from trying to deport one of our own for speaking up and exposing the ongoing human rights violations at NWDC,” said Angélica Cházaro, who heads up my defense committee.

“Fifteen years of NWDC caging people and making profits from their incarceration is long enough,” she added.

As we grow our movement, we ask our community to join us to shut down NWDC for good. Stopping my deportation is not enough; all deportations must end, not only in Washington but also across the entire United States.

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