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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Seattle judge hands surprise ‘reprieve’ to activist facing deportation

A Seattle immigration judge has granted a continuance in the deportation case of immigration rights activist Maru Mora-Villalpando. A large crowd gathered outside of the Immigration Court building on 2nd Avenue Tuesday afternoon to stand in solidarity with Mora-Villalpando.

Mora-Villalpando's next court hearing is in January. The judge granted her time to begin applying for permanent residency in the U.S.

That process will start in August, when Mora-Villalpando’s daughter Josefina turns 21, the legal age to sponsor her.

Josefina Mora said it was an unexpected turn of events.

"It makes me feel very privileged but also very thankful that I get to stay with my mom, but it also makes me think about all the people who are my age, younger children who either can’t be with their parents or are separated from their parents," said Mora.

Mora-Villalpando entered the U.S. more than 25 years ago on a tourist visa, then remained in the country.

Her attorneys believe her activism prompted the deportation order. U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement officials dispute those claims.

Chants of "abolish ICE" and "hands off Maru" rang out from the crowd as they waited for Mora-Villalpando to return from the hearing. 

"We would ask, as we always do, that you remember to support all the people who don’t have hundreds of supporters out here every time they come to court," said Devin Theriot-Orr, Mora-Villalpando's legal counsel, after delivering the news.

Mora-Villalpando addressed the crowd arm in arm with her daughter. "I would be nobody if I didn’t have my daughter," she said, fighting back tears.

"Everything I do, everything I am, is because of her. I understand every single parent right now that are not with their children because they are detained."

Year started with KUOW: 1994
Year started with KUOW: 2017