UN ex­perts con­cerned about de­por­ta­tion of US ac­tivists

Imperial Valley Press - - NEWS -

SEAT­TLE (AP) — United Na­tions hu­man rights ex­perts Wed­nes­day called on the U.S. to pro­tect im­mi­grant rights ac­tivists from de­por­ta­tion, say­ing they’re con­cerned about a pat­tern of in­tim­i­da­tion and re­tal­i­a­tion.

The Geneva-based U.N. Of­fice of the High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights said in a state­ment that de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings against Seat­tle-area ac­tivist Maru Mora-Vil­lal­pando ap­peared to be in re­tal­i­a­tion for her po­lit­i­cal work. “Giv­ing peo­ple no­tice of de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings ap­pears to be a part of an in­creas­ing pat­tern of in­tim­i­da­tion and re­tal­i­a­tion against peo­ple de­fend­ing mi­grants’ rights in the US,” the state­ment said. They said peo­ple work­ing too pro­tect mi­grants’ rights must not be si­lenced.

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly de­nied any re­tal­i­a­tion.

Mora-Vil­lal­pando, a Mex­ico na­tive and long­time ac­tivist for im­mi­grants held at the pri­vately run North­west De­ten­tion Cen­ter in Ta­coma, has been in the U.S. con­tin­u­ously since 1996. She says she re­ceived no­tice in De­cem­ber to ap­pear in im­mi­gra­tion court, even though she has never had any in­ter­ac­tion with law en­force­ment that might trig­ger de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings. The agency “does not tar­get un­law­fully present aliens for ar­rest based on ad­vo­cacy po­si­tions they hold or in re­tal­i­a­tion for crit­i­cal com­ments they make,” Matthew Al­bence, the ex­ec­u­tive as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of ICE en­force­ment and re­moval op­er­a­tions, said in an emailed state­ment Wed­nes­day.

He said any sug­ges­tion of tar­get­ing “is ir­re­spon­si­ble, spec­u­la­tive and in­ac­cu­rate,” adding ICE fo­cuses its en­force­ment re­sources on those who pose a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity, pub­lic safety and bor­der se­cu­rity.

But, Al­bence added, “ICE will no longer ex­empt classes or cat­e­gories of re­mov­able aliens from po­ten­tial en­force­ment.” Any­one in vi­o­la­tion of the im­mi­gra­tion laws may be sub­ject to im­mi­gra­tion ar­rest, de­ten­tion and re­moval from the United States, he said.

In this Jan. 16 file photo, Maru Mora-Vil­lal­pando ac­knowl­edges sup­port­ers sur­round­ing her at a news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing that the long­time ac­tivist for il­le­gal im­mi­grants in the North­west says she her­self is now fac­ing de­por­ta­tion, in Seat­tle. AP PHOTO/ ELAINE THOMPSON

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