UN: US must respect human rights against migrant activists

On Wednesday, February 14, a group of UN experts urged the United States government to respect the rights of defenders after concerns involving Maru Mora Villalpando, a Mexican immigrant activist whose campaigns aimed to protect migrants’ rights.

Villalpando, founder of a group which affirms human rights concerns about the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, is being deported after leading a campaign against human rights standards in the privatized facility. Her deportation proceedings, have been considered “received without warning, appear to be related to her advocacy work on behalf of migrant detainees.”

Villalpando notified the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of hunger strikes, the deportation of migrants and possible corporate involvement in human rights violations.

“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.” Over the last several months, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has detained (or deported) a large number of immigrant activists, leading to advocates questioning if the Trump administration is targeting political opponents.

Last week, for example, several attorneys with the Legal Aid Society and Bronx Defenders held a protest in front of the Bronx Criminal Court after one of their clients was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents outside of the state courthouse. And Wednesday a second federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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