Border Patrol Detention of Student Activist Is Retribution, Critics Say
Claudia Rueda, a 22-year-old student activist, was detained by Border Patrol agents in Los Angeles earlier this week in an incident that her lawyer and supporters say is retaliation for earlier protests.
Last month, Rueda protested the detention of her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime. Vidal-Jaime was picked up during a drug raid, but she has since been released and authorities say she has no connection to the drug trafficking incident in question. Rueda herself was picked up by Border Patrol agents this week outside her L.A. home and sent to a detention facility in San Diego.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Border Patrol officials said Rueda was one of seven people arrested as part of an investigation into “a cross-border narcotics smuggling operation.” All seven, however, were arrested on suspicion of immigration violations, not drug offenses, according to the Border Patrol statement.
Rueda violated the terms of her visa, the statement said. The others arrested were not named and identified only as five Mexican nationals and one Guatemalan national. The statement also described Vidal-Jaime as “connected” to the drug trafficking organization, though a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which was involved in the April arrests, previously told The Times that the woman was not a subject of the narcotics investigation. …
Late Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice released a statement saying that Rueda had been transferred to ICE custody.
“Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Ms. Rueda currently has no legal authorization to be in the United States,” Kice said. “Accordingly, she has been placed in removal proceedings.… It will now be up to an immigration judge … to determine whether Ms. Rueda has a legal basis to remain in the U.S. or will be ordered removed.”
Monika Langarica, Rueda’s attorney, told the Times there is no link between Rueda and the alleged drug ring.
“There is a lot that suggests retaliatory behavior on Border Patrol’s part,” Langarica said.
One of Rueda’s supporters, fellow immigration activist Claudia Bautista, agreed. “They wanted payback,” she told the Times, arguing that Rueda’s detention was “retribution” for her earlier activism.
Rueda’s case, which has already sparked local protests and grass-roots mobilization, came the same week that statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showed immigration arrests have increased almost 40 percent in President Trump’s first 100 days.
“This is exactly what everyone feared,” Bautista told the Times. “It is very concerning they’d just come into a Los Angeles neighborhood and take her and other people.”
Read the full report here.
— Posted by Emma NilesWAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
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