Lawsuit Seeks to Stop Retaliation Against Immigrants’ Rights Activists

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Plaintiffs Hold Press Conference in Seattle to Announce Lawsuit

Seattle, WA — NWDC Resistance, Detention Watch Network, and the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, October 23rd asking the federal court in the Western District of Washington to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) unconstitutional policy of retaliating against undocumented immigrants engaged in First Amendment-protected advocacy in support of immigrants’ rights.

ICE, and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, has emerged as one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States. Its targeting of activists is anti-democratic and it threatens the free speech rights of anyone engaged in protest of ICE, an agency that sits at the forefront of the President’s anti-immigrant agenda.

  • What: Press Conference to announce lawsuit against ICE to stop retaliating against undocumented immigrants engaged in First Amendment protected advocacy in support of immigrants’ rights.
  • Who:  Shacorrie Tunkara, member of NWDC Resistance
    • Silky Shah, Executive Director of DWN
    • Peter Strand (invited), Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites
    • Representative from the Anti-ICE 9 activists
    • Maru Mora-Villalpando, community organizer with NWDC Resistance 
  • Where: 1000 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA
  • When: Wednesday, October 24th 8:30 AM PST

Maru-Mora Villalpando, activist with NWDC Resistance said:

“ICE’s practice of retaliating against people in detention who are attempting to speak up for their rights has now reached us in the outside. Their intimidation and threats against our work speaks of their fascist and totalitarian agenda to stop all dissidents in their tracks. This should worry everyone in our nation, and ICE should learn that we won’t let them use these scare tactics against the human right defense work we do.”

Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network said:

“The ramp up of targeting immigrant rights activists, including Detention Watch Network members, to silence political opposition to ICE’s cruel and unjust practices is a clear example of the further degradation of democratic values under the anti-immigrant Trump administration. DWN will continue to speak out against ICE’s egregious patterns of abuse, stand with those they target, and demand accountability for their attempts to silence us.”

Peter, Strand, Coalition of Anti-racist Whites said:

"Because our humanity and the freedom of all people depends on the success of people of color-led liberation movements, we organize white folks to take action for racial justice. We can't do this work without building accountable relationships with organizers of color, who have always been at the forefront of liberation movements. When these organizers are targeted and harassed, their energy and resources are diverted toward self-defense, and our energy and resources are also diverted to staving off the attacks. It's clear that ICE's intention is not only to silence Maru. The attack on Maru is meant to weaken the movement against detention and deportations by bullying other activists into submission.”

The lawsuit provides a list of dozens of activists facing deportation due to ICE’s illegal retaliation.  ICE placed Maru Mora-Villalpando into removal proceedings for her “anti-ICE protests. ” And others have been arrested at their check-ins with ICE, after leaving press conferences or talking to a reporter.

Elizabeth Simpson, National Immigration Project of the NLG said:

“It is no secret that ICE has been systematically surveilling, detaining, and deporting immigrant activists who speak out about immigration policies and practices. As we investigated our clients’ claims, we were troubled to see how widespread this practice is and how much it was impacting our clients’ work and activism.”


NWDC Resistance is a grassroots collective led by undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens located in Tacoma, Washington. It is an unincorporated association formed for the purposes of confronting human rights violations at the Northwest Detention Center and dedicated to ending the detention and deportation of immigrants.

Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (“CARW”) is an organization in Seattle, WA that works to undo institutional racism and white privilege through education and organizing.

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and Davis Wright and Tremaine filed the lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs.  The National Immigration Project is a membership-based organization that advocates on behalf of the rights of immigrants impacted by the immigration and criminal justice systems.