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UN experts concerned about deportation of US activists

AP  |  Seattle 

experts today called on the US to protect immigrant rights activists from deportation, saying they're concerned about a pattern of intimidation and retaliation.

The Geneva-based UN Office of the High Commissioner for said in a statement that proceedings against activist appeared to be in retaliation for her political work.

"Giving people notice of proceedings appears to be a part of an increasing pattern of intimidation and retaliation against people defending migrants' rights in the US," the statement said. They said people working too protect migrants' rights must not be silenced.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have repeatedly denied any retaliation.

Mora-Villalpando, a native and longtime activist for immigrants held at the privately run in Tacoma, has been in the US continuously since 1996.

She says she received notice in December to appear in immigration court, even though she has never had any interaction with that might trigger proceedings.

The agency "does not target unlawfully present aliens for arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make," Matthew Albence, the executive associate director of ICE enforcement and removal operations, said in an emailed statement today.

He said any suggestion of targeting "is irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate," adding ICE focuses its enforcement resources on those who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.

But, Albence added, "ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement." Anyone in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and removal from the United States, he said.

activists have also pointed to cases like that of Eliseo Jurado, the husband of an immigrant activist in Boulder, Colorado, who sought sanctuary from deportation in a church.

Ravi Ragbir, a citizen of who leads the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, is also facing deportation after being arrested on January 11 during a routine check-in with immigration officials. Ragbir has a criminal record for wire fraud because of work he did for a crooked mortgage company.

US ordered Ragbir released from custody late last month, finding his sudden detention was "unnecessarily cruel" because he wasn't given time to say goodbye to his family. The also expressed "grave concern" that he had been targeted because of his activism.

"We're extremely happy to see the UN making a statement in our favour, not only for my case but also the other defenders who are being targeted," Mora-Villalpando said today.

Mora-Villalpando leads an organisation called Resistance, which was created in 2014 when detainees at the privately run immigration detention facility in Tacoma began a series of hunger strikes to protest their treatment.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 15 2018. 06:40 IST