Seek­ing ‘Dreamer’ pro­tec­tions

Im­mi­gra­tion ac­tivist says she was a vic­tim of re­tal­i­a­tion by the Bor­der Pa­trol.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By James Queally james.queally@la­ Twit­ter: @JamesQueal­lyLAT

An im­mi­grant rights ac­tivist who has said she was de­tained by Bor­der Pa­trol agents in re­tal­i­a­tion for protest­ing the ar­rest of her mother spoke out pub­licly for the first time Mon­day, an­nounc­ing she will ap­ply for pro­tec­tions as a “Dreamer” in the hopes of avoid­ing de­por­ta­tion.

Clau­dia Rueda, 22, grew emo­tional as she stood out­side a de­ten­tion cen­ter in down­town Los An­ge­les, de­scrib­ing her time in fed­eral cus­tody as a “night­mare.”

“In there, it was al­ways or­ders and or­ders. It was very de­hu­man­iz­ing,” she said.

Rueda was re­leased from cus­tody June 9. She was ar­rested in front of her aunt’s Boyle Heights home May 18, when agents with the U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion de­scended on the area.

The Bor­der Pa­trol has said the agents were car­ry­ing out a drug in­ves­ti­ga­tion when they snatched up Rueda and six oth­ers; none of the peo­ple ar­rested that day were charged with drug of­fenses.

Rueda’s mother, Teresa Vi­dal-Jaime, 54, had been ar­rested dur­ing a joint op­er­a­tion by the Bor­der Pa­trol and the Los An­ge­les Sher­iff ’s De­part­ment in April.

A drug raid by both agen­cies led to the seizure of more than 30 pounds of co­caine and $600,000 in cash, au­thor­i­ties said.

Vi­dal-Jaime’s hus­band, Hugo Rueda, and three other men were ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of drug pos­ses­sion. The Sher­iff’s De­part­ment has said Vi­dalJaime was not part of the al­leged drug op­er­a­tion, but she was held in fed­eral cus­tody for sev­eral weeks on sus­pi­cion of vi­o­lat­ing im­mi­gra­tion law.

Rueda led protests ob­ject­ing to her mother’s de­ten­tion. Vi­dal-Jaime was re­leased from fed­eral cus­tody May 12 over the ob­jec­tions of U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cials. Rueda was ar­rested six days later in a move her at­tor­ney, Monika Lan­gar­ica, and other lo­cal ac­tivists have de­cried as re­tal­ia­tory.

Lan­gar­ica and oth­ers have said Rueda has no ties to the al­leged drug or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Asked why agents car­ry­ing out a drug in­ves­ti­ga­tion only man­aged to make im­mi­gra­tion-re­lated ar­rests, Mark Endi­cott, a su­per­vi­sory agent with the Bor­der Pa­trol in San Diego, had said pre­vi­ously that “the in­tent of the en­force­ment ef­fort was to dis­rupt the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Endi­cott said Rueda had been iden­ti­fied as “part of a sup­port net­work” for the drug or­ga­ni­za­tion. He de­clined to elab­o­rate.

Rueda, who has been in the U.S. since she was 6, will ap­ply for pro­tec­tion un­der the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, Lan­gar­ica said. The ini­tia­tive, started by Pres­i­dent Obama in 2012, pro­tects im­mi­grants brought to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren from de­por­ta­tion.

Rueda has “no le­gal stand­ing” to be in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by ICE last month. She has been ar­rested two other times dur­ing protests in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to po­lice records and Times ar­chives.

Lan­gar­ica made a for­mal re­quest that im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties drop pro­ceed­ings against her client.

In a state­ment, an ICE spokes­woman said the agency “will re­view any re­quests sub­mit­ted by Ms. Rueda’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

The fate of the DACA pro­gram re­mains un­cer­tain. A memo is­sued last week by Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly seemed to in­di­cate the pro­gram would con­tinue, but Pres­i­dent Trump re­peat­edly vowed to end the pro­gram while on the cam­paign trail.

Rueda is a stu­dent at Cal State L.A. and was joined by sev­eral of her pro­fes­sors Mon­day morn­ing.

Ale­jan­dra Marchevsky, who said Rueda was study­ing the ef­fects of de­por­ta­tion on im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties in class just a day be­fore her ar­rest, crit­i­cized the tac­tics of cus­toms of­fi­cials as an at­tempt to quash po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism.

“We’re see­ing this re­ally as a strat­egy to si­lence young peo­ple who op­pose this im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy,” Marchevsky said.

With tears in her eyes, Rueda said she hoped an im­mi­gra­tion judge would not force her to leave the only coun­try she’s ever called home.

“This is all that I know. I don’t know any­thing else,” Rueda said. “Los An­ge­les is fam­ily.”

Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

CLAU­DIA RUEDA, 22, is un­der re­view by im­mi­gra­tion courts af­ter her May 18 ar­rest. The Cal State L.A. stu­dent, who was brought here il­le­gally at age 6, said Mon­day that the U.S. is the only home she’s ever known.

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