They took our stu­dent

The ar­rest of Clau­dia Rueda by im­mi­gra­tion agents shows the cru­elty of Trump’s poli­cies.

Los Angeles Times - - OP-ED - By Beth Baker and Ale­jan­dra Marchevsky Beth Baker is pro­fes­sor of an­thro­pol­ogy and Ale­jan­dra Marchevsky is pro­fes­sor of lib­eral stud­ies and women’s, gen­der and sex­u­al­ity stud­ies at Cal State Los An­ge­les.

On the morn­ing of May 18, Cal State Los An­ge­les stu­dent Clau­dia Rueda dis­ap­peared in East L.A. The 22-year-old im­mi­grant rights ac­tivist stepped out­side her aunt’s home to move her mother’s car for street clean­ing, but never re­turned. Hours later her fam­ily learned that she had been sur­rounded by three un­marked cars car­ry­ing an es­ti­mated nine plain­clothes Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers who whisked her off to a de­ten­tion cen­ter 130 miles away.

Clau­dia is a Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies ma­jor at Cal State L.A., where we are fac­ulty. At the time of her ar­rest, Clau­dia was en­rolled in one of our cour­ses on U.S. im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy that stud­ied the ef­fects of de­por­ta­tion on fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. This sub­ject was not just aca­demic for her; it hit close to the bone.

Once in class she asked, “Why aren’t more peo­ple ad­vo­cat­ing for im­mi­grant rights, or against the fur­ther cre­ation of il­le­gal­ity, when pop­u­la­tions of chil­dren and par­ents across bor­ders are suf­fer­ing due to U.S. poli­cies?” Al­though she is el­i­gi­ble for the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, or DACA, pro­gram, which would pro­tect her from de­por­ta­tion, her fam­ily could not af­ford the $500 ap­pli­ca­tion fee. Clau­dia worried con­stantly that she or one of her fam­ily mem­bers would be de­ported from the coun­try where they have lived for more than 15 years.

In late April, it seemed that Clau­dia’s worst fears were re­al­ized when her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, was swept up in a drug raid by a joint task force of the CBP and the L.A. County sher­iff at the apart­ment com­plex where they lived. Al­though Vi­dalJaime was not charged with a crime, she was de­tained by im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials for overstaying her visa. Vidal-Jaime was re­leased by an im­mi­gra­tion court on $2,000 bond, thanks in part to a high-pro­file cam­paign led by the Los An­ge­les Im­mi­grant Youth Coali­tion, of which Clau­dia is a mem­ber.

Less than a week later, the CBP re­turned to East L.A. look­ing for Clau­dia. Res­i­dents re­ported that dozens of CBP agents knocked on doors at her for­mer apart­ment build­ing and at her aunt’s nearby home ask­ing for in­for­ma­tion about Clau­dia’s where­abouts and even fol­lowed her neigh­bors for miles on their way to work to ques­tion, and in some cases ar­rest, them.

In to­tal, the CBP ar­rested seven com­mu­nity mem­bers that day, in­clud­ing Clau­dia and sev­eral res­i­dents from her for­mer apart­ment build­ing. Al­though none had a crim­i­nal record, four were de­ported to Ti­juana within 24 hours with­out see­ing a judge or a lawyer, and the rest are de­tained and in dan­ger of de­por­ta­tion. The CBP claims that these ar­rests were part of a “crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” but has not pro­duced any ev­i­dence that con­nects Clau­dia or the oth­ers to any crime.

Clau­dia is the face of im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. Un­der cur­rent ex­ec­u­tive guide­lines, any im­mi­grant sus­pected of a crime, even if never ar­rested, charged or con­victed, has be­come a pri­or­ity for de­por­ta­tion. Ba­sic due process, such as the right to know the charges and ev­i­dence against you, is ab­sent in the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem. This pol­icy has led to a 32% in­crease in im­mi­grant de­ten­tions in the first three months of Trump’s pres­i­dency com­pared with the same time last year, and a 100% in­crease in the de­ten­tion of peo­ple with no crim­i­nal record or with only mi­nor traf­fic in­frac­tions. “Crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions” serve as a pre­text for a pol­icy of mass de­por­ta­tion of im­mi­grants who have deep ties in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Trump re­cently claimed, “We are not af­ter the Dream­ers. We are af­ter the crim­i­nals.” How­ever, data show a 25% in­crease in the de­por­ta­tion of Dream­ers, as DACA re­cip­i­ents are known, in the first three months of Trump’s pres­i­dency, com­pared with the same time last year. Im­mi­grant youth who en­counter the po­lice are more likely to have their DACA sta­tus re­voked and be de­tained by U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

Clau­dia’s case also il­lu­mi­nates the gov­ern­ment’s ap­par­ent prac­tice of go­ing af­ter un­doc­u­mented ac­tivists who chal­lenge its im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. Clau­dia’s de­ten­tion less than one week af­ter her mother was re­leased seems like pay­back by the CBP for her ac­tivism and lead­er­ship. She is one of sev­eral youth ac­tivists since Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion who have been tar­geted by im­mi­gra­tion agen­cies in what seems to be an at­tempt to si­lence them.

In March, un­der­cover ICE agents in Ver­mont ar­rested three prom­i­nent un­doc­u­mented ac­tivists as­so­ci­ated with the group Mi­grant Jus­tice, all of them younger than 25. In that same month, ICE agents in Mis­sis­sippi de­tained 22-year-old DACA re­cip­i­ent Daniela Var­gas af­ter she spoke at a rally call­ing on the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to estab­lish a path to cit­i­zen­ship for im­mi­grants.

Those con­cerned about creep­ing au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism in U.S. gov­er­nance should be deeply trou­bled by Clau­dia’s ex­pe­ri­ence. Af­ter four weeks in de­ten­tion with­out see­ing a judge, Clau­dia will fi­nally have a bond hear­ing on Fri­day. ICE can and should ex­er­cise its dis­cre­tion to re­lease her im­me­di­ately and process her ap­pli­ca­tion for DACA. State and lo­cal politi­cians who promised to cre­ate sanc­tu­ar­ies for res­i­dents like Clau­dia need to en­sure that lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies are not us­ing valu­able pub­lic re­sources to sow fear by col­lab­o­rat­ing with im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment ef­forts.

Damian Dovarganes As­so­ci­ated Press

PO­LICE de­tain Clau­dia Rueda, then 17, at a protest for im­mi­grant rights in L.A. in 2012. She was ar­rested again last month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.