A local immigration activist facing deportation has won at least six more months in the country.
Maru Mora Villalpando received a notice in December to appear in immigration court, the first step toward a potential deportation. Mora Villalpando is active in local immigration advocacy, including with Northwest Detention Center Resistance, a group that advocates on behalf of immigrants detained in the private detention center in Tacoma. The group holds regular actions outside the center.
On Tuesday, Mora Villalpando faced her latest hearing in the ongoing immigration case. There, Immigration Judge Brett Parchert continued her case until January.
In August, Mora Villalpando's daughter will turn 21 years old, which will allow Mora Villalpando to apply for a green card. However, the multistep application process can take a year, according to Mora Villalpando's attorney.
After the hearing, Mora Villalpando told supporters she was relieved at the possibility of staying in the United States with her daughter.
"Everything I do, everything I am, it's because of her," Mora Villalpando said. "I understand every single parent right now [who is] not with their children because they are detained or even those that might be with them but are also in deportation proceedings."
In the same court room where her hearing took place, families with children waited for similar proceedings.
Mora Villalpando's attorney, Devin Theriot-Orr, called the continuation of her case "very encouraging."
Mora Villalpando came to the United States in 1996 on a visitor visa and stayed. She has no criminal history, according to documents filed in court by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Mora Villalpando advocates for full prison abolition, the abolition of ICE, and an end to deportations. She and her daughter live in Bellingham.
Mora Villalpando argues ICE targeted her because of her work. In a form filed by ICE, the agency wrote that Mora Villalpando came to their attention after the environmental website whatcomwatch.org published an interview with her in which she said she is undocumented.
"It should also be noted that she has extensive involvement with anti-ICE protests and Latino advocacy programs," the ICE form says. The agency has denied targeting Mora Villalpando.
The December notice that she may face deportation came around the same time as similar cases in New York and Colorado.
Mora Villalpando's hearing Tuesday took place in immigration court inside a downtown Seattle building owned by real estate developer Martin Selig. Selig's office is located in the same building. After her hearing ended, Mora Villalpando and a small group of supporters visited the office to deliver a petition with 1,200 signatures asking Selig to stop renting space in the building to ICE.
Outside, more than 100 people gathered to express support for Mora Villalpando and call for the abolition of ICE.
Speaking to the crowd, Mora Villalpando said deportation proceedings attempt to "vanish us from this country like we were never here."
"But we are," she said. "And we're not going anywhere. We're going to stay and we're going to fight."
Mora Villalpando's next hearing is scheduled for January 2019.