ICE Detains Yet Another Immigrant Rights Activist in Alleged Retaliation

While the Trump administration has made deporting immigrants a national priority from the start, they’ve now rejected their original claim to only target “dangerous” undocumented immigrants. Their agenda has become even more political, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents appear to be using deportation as a way to silence dissent against the White House’s current immigration policies.

The tactic of “targeted disappearances” — or undocumented immigrants who are picked up by ICE when they show up for regularly scheduled, mandatory check-ins with immigration officials — has been increasing in recent months, as the administration struggles to make headway on its campaign promises. Unlike previous White Houses, President Donald Trump has rejected efforts to only deport those with criminal charges, and instead has embraced targeting people at hospitals, court hearings and schools.

But now immigration officials are using detention and deportation as a way of squelching their opponents, too. In February, immigration activists filed a suit claiming that ICE was targeting activists as punishment for their speaking out against deportation and demanding movement on DACA.

According to the Hill, the lawsuit reads:

Defendants have investigated, surveilled, harassed, raided, arrested, detained, and even deported these activists in order to silence them. This sharp spike in immigration enforcement specifically targeting the most vocal immigration activists is intended to stifle dissent….The Government’s targeting of activists on the basis of their core political speech is unfair, discriminatory, and un-American. And it violates the First Amendment.

The lawsuit, unfortunately, has done little to cool down ICE. This week, immigration rights activist and reproductive rights activist Alejandra Pablos was detained during a regular check-in with immigration officials — an action that Pablos believes was tied to her participation in a recent D.C. protest.

Rewire reports:

The immigrant rights organization Mijente noted in a petition on Wednesday, the same day that Pablos was taken into custody, that she had led “chants [in early January] at a peaceful protest in Virginia outside of the Department of Homeland Security,” where local agents took her into custody. “It appears that after the protest in Virginia, one of the ICE agents called her deportation officer in Tucson, Arizona, and sought to get her detained in retaliation for her protest.’

Pablos isn’t alone, either. Crosscut reports:

Newly released documents on nationally known immigrant-rights activist Maru Mora Villalpando, currently under threat of deportation, show federal officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are learning about undocumented immigrants through the press and may even choose to target those who are active in protests.

In documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, with the help of Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, government officials explicitly state that Villalpando came to the attention of ICE’s local office “after an interview was published in the ‘Whatcom Watch,’ a grassroots environmental newspaper in Bellingham. The government official also notes that although Villalpando has no criminal history, she “has extensive involvement in anti-ICE protests and Latino advocacy programs” and has ‘become a public figure.”

When questioned in January, the Trump administration adamantly denied that they were using ICE punitively to quiet dissent. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not target unlawfully present aliens for arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make,” executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations Matthew Albence told the Washington Post in mid January. “Any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate.”

Speculative or not, there’s no denying that Pablos was able to check in with her immigration officials without any incident up until the time she that was actively involved in an anti-immigration protest. The White House may call that a coincidence, but it seems clear to the rest of us that it was something completely different: a lesson.

Photo Credit: Molly Adams/Flickr

62 comments

Marie W
Marie W18 days ago

Thank you

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Brian F
Brian F5 months ago

John c Your boring us to death. You simply ignore the truth that your criminal Democratic party caused this fraud Trump to win by cheating Bernie Sanders out of his primary. Go away.

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RONALD Walker
RONALD Walker6 months ago

This is not surprising to me. We all know ICE is doing this for many reasons. Frist, it's very easy to find the people who are making all the noise. Trump the ass hole wants to see numbers. ICE is having a hard time making those numbers. That's where the problem is. That's why business people make poor politicians. Business people just make up numbers and everything becomes better. A person as stupid as trump has no understanding how our laws work.

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R6 months ago

ty

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R6 months ago

ty

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john c
john c6 months ago

Brian F. - tired of your Bull Shit. Your response is repetitive not proof. Go away.
John C./Housotn, Tx.

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lori G
lori Gearhart6 months ago

thanks

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Peggy B
Peggy B6 months ago

TYFS

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Amanda McConnell
Amanda M6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda McConnell
Amanda M6 months ago

noted

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