Immigration activist Maru Mora faces possible deportation.
Immigration activist Maru Mora-Villalpando faces possible deportation. HG

City officials and at least one member of Congress are denouncing the potential deportation of a well-known local immigration activist.

In December, Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent Maru Mora-Villalpando a notice to appear in immigration court, the first step toward deportation. Yesterday, Mora-Villalpando told supporters and reporters she believes she's being targeted for her political activity. Mora-Villalpando's work includes organizing detainees at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

All nine Seattle City Council members signed a statement saying they are "angered" by the notice and called Mora-Villalpando a "courageous advocate for social justice issues and immigrant rights in the Puget Sound region and nationally."

"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 statement said.

The city's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs wrote on Twitter: "We are alarmed by what appears to be a retaliatory action from ICE against longtime immigrant rights advocate Maru Mora-Villalpando. This reflects a pattern across the country with ICE targeting visible immigrant leaders." Mayor Jenny Durkan Tweeted, "Seattle will stand up to this kind of federal intimidation. We stand w/ Maru & will help fight this brazen retaliatory action."

Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal called ICE's action "nothing but an attempt to drive fear into immigrant communities, intimidate people out of standing up for their rights and weaken our movement for change."

ICE confirmed in a statement Tuesday that Mora-Villalpando "has been charged by ICE with being unlawfully present in the United States and her case is currently under legal review." The agency said "all those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to enforcement proceedings," but did not respond to the claim that ICE is targeting immigration activists.