Woman named 2013 ‘Chicagoan of the Year’ granted asylum, will not be deported to Mexico

CHICAGO — Immigration rights activist Lulu Martinez-Valdez was granted asylum on Wednesday, but she says the fight continues.

The 28-year-old was facing deportation to Mexico. She was brought to the United States at nearly 3 years old.

Martinez-Valdez gained national attention when she joined other undocumented students who came to be known as the Dream 9. She went to Mexico and then was arrested by federal agents at the border and spent several weeks in a detention center to protest deportations and fight for immigration reform.

Chicago Magazine named her a 2013 Chicagoan of the Year.

In immigration court on Wednesday, she said she knew the benefits of that campaign outweighed the risks of the time — and that it was necessary not just for herself but for her family and community.

Her attorney argued that if Martinez-Valdez was returned to Mexico, she would be vulnerable to violence as a member of the LGBTQ community and as a political activist. The judge agreed and granted her asylum. 

Martinez vowed to continue fighting for immigration reform, and she says this is much bigger than her case.

There is another hearing scheduled on Tuesday before the case is finalized. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement can appeal the case.

An ICE spokesperson had no comment Wednesday.