Saturday, May 20, 2017

Detention of Student Activist by Border Patrol Sparks Local Protests

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Claudia Rueda, a 22-year old student activist, was detained by Border Patrol agents 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. Although Vidal-Jaime was picked up during a drug raid, she has since been released and authorities say she has no connection to the drug trafficking incident in question. Rueda herself was picked up this week outside her Los Angeles home by Border Patrol agents and sent to a detention facility in San Diego, Calif.

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 that 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 stated.
One of Rueda’s supporters, fellow immigration activist Claudia Bautista, agrees. “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 grassroots mobilization, comes the same week as new statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) show that, in President Trump’s first 100 days, immigration arrests have increased almost 40 percent.

“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.

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