2020 Pro Bono & Social Impact Report

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Page 21


Working to Stop ICE From Targeting Activists Maru Mora-Villalpando has dedicated her life to the fight for immigrant justice. Over the past decade, she has organized multiple local and statewide campaigns and protests in support of immigrants and immigrant detainees and against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal and local authorities. In 2014, it became clear that ICE was tracking her. A few years later, she received notice that the Department of Homeland Security had started removal proceedings against her. When she got ahold of the document in which ICE recorded its evidence, it specifically mentioned her “extensive involvement with anti-ICE protests” and “advocacy for Latino causes.” None of the usual triggers for deportation— such as contact with the police, raids, or prior deportations—were present. Mora-Villalpando is far from alone in being targeted for her constitutionally protected speech. DWT has sued to stop the practice.

DWT associate Robbie Miller is spearheading the suit, along with partners Bruce E.H. Johnson and Ambika Kumar, two of the leading First Amendment lawyers in the country. Plaintiffs in the case are La Resistencia, an organization co-founded by Mora-Villalpando that works to combat human rights violations at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, and the Seattlebased Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites, which works to undo institutional racism. Our lawsuit argues that as a result of ICE’s unconstitutional practices, detainees’ family members are afraid to speak and our clients’ ability to carry out their missions has been compromised. ICE has twice tried and failed to get the suit dismissed. The Biden administration recently sought and received a temporary stay in the case while it develops updated civil immigration enforcement guidance.