Illegal alien activists across the country say they are being targeted by federal immigration authorities for speaking out at protests and accusing the government of heavy-handed tactics.
The Trump administration has warned that anyone in the country illegally could be arrested and deported under tough new enforcement rules. And federal officials deny allegations of retaliation.
But the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups say they have documented two dozen cases of Illegal alien activists and volunteers who say they have been arrested or face fines for their work.
They say many of the activists who are illegal aliens don’t have criminal records and only came to the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of their activism.
“We’re always at the marches and giving interviews, without fear of what could happen,” says Zully Palacios Rodriguez, one of the activists caught by ICE. “So to go against us is a way to intimidate the community.”
Several of the illegal alien arrests have garnered national and international attention.
Two of the illegal alien activists who have been arrested and put in deportation proceedings have filed First Amendment lawsuits claiming their free speech rights have been violated.
In one of those cases, the United Nations Office of Human Rights waded into the controversy, calling on the U.S. government “to guarantee that no action, including detention and deportation, as a means of retaliation, is taken against” the activist.
The United States Government must respect the rights of human rights defenders, a group of UN experts* has said, amid concern over action being taken against a Mexican woman who campaigns to protect migrants’ rights.
Maru Mora Villalpando, who has been in the US since 1996, is facing deportation proceedings after fronting a high-profile campaign against alleged human rights violations at a US immigrants’ detention centre, operated by a private company on behalf of the US Government.
“Ms. Villalpando’s notice to appear at deportation proceedings, received without warning, seems to be related to her advocacy work on behalf of migrant detainees,” the experts said.
“We urge the US Government to protect and ensure Ms. Villalpando’s rights as a defender and her right to family life.
“The authorities should take all necessary measures to guarantee that no action, including detention and deportation, as means of retaliation, is taken against Ms. Villalpando for reporting cases of the detention of immigrants and alleged violations of their human rights, especially in view of the reported conditions in these centres of detention.”
The experts said they were concerned that Ms. Villalpando’s case appeared to be part of a pattern.
“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 experts said.
“People working legitimately to protect migrants’ rights must not be restricted or silenced. Their rights must be upheld so they can continue to exercise their vital role.”
ICE flatly denies that illegal alien activists from Migrant Justice and other pro-immigrant groups are being singled out.
“ICE does not target unlawfully present aliens for arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make,” Matthew Albence, executive associate director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, said in a statement. “Any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate.
“All those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and … removal from the United States.”
In an email to NPR, an ICE spokesman for the region that includes Vermont, wrote: “Professional activists string together tenuous pieces of information to justify their campaigning. The allegations are just wrong.”
Doris Meissner, commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Clinton and now senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, is skeptical that immigration agents would be picking on activists.
She points out that Trump has given ICE broad new authority to apprehend anybody they come across who’s in the country unlawfully.
“Activists can be swept up in that, just like a variety of other groups that have been unprepared to face deportation,” she says.
Yet, illegal alien advocates point to what they call the hostile posture the administration has taken toward anyone standing in the way of its immigration clampdown.
“It’s all of a piece with what this Homeland Security Department has been doing around the country,” says Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project. “You have the attorney general, the secretary of homeland security, and the acting director of ICE all making various threats to sanctuary cities and their officials.”
He says it’s not a stretch to think immigration agents would target anti-ICE activists who are in the country illegally.
Among the other cases of illegal alien activists facing deportation is Maru Mora-Villalpando, who came from Mexico City to San Francisco in 1996 on a tourist visa, and overstayed. Villalpando became a well-known activist in the Northwest, regularly speaking out against ICE’s detention policies.
ICE agents say she came to their attention when they read about her in the media accounts that indicated she was an illegal alien. In December, ICE sent her a letter telling her to appear before an immigration judge to face deportation. She didn’t have a criminal record.
In her charging document, an ICE agent wrote: “It should also be noted that she has extensive involvement with anti-ICE protests and Latino advocacy programs.”
The case came to the attention of the U.N. human rights experts. They wrote in a statement: “Ms. Villalpando’s notice to appear at deportation proceedings, received without warning, seems to be related to her advocacy work on behalf of migrant detainees.”
“My first sense was that ICE was trying to send me a signal to stop my work,” Villalpando says from her home in Bellingham, Washington. “The public needs to know what’s going on.”
She is correct in one sense. The public does need to know what’s going on. If only the mainstream media would portray illegal aliens as what they truly are, and deal with them accordlingly. With the equal of 15 divisions per year invading the United States, illegal aliens are nothing more than soldiers in a foreign invading army.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 19th, 2018