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Activist Leader Freed from Detention Facility

June 10, 2017

By Mario A. Cortez

Claudia Rueda

A federal judge in a San Diego County immigration court has ordered the release of an activist who people believe was a target for law enforcement officers in Los Angeles County.

Claudia Rueda, an immigrant rights leader and a student at CSU Los Angeles, was arrested by immigration agents on May 18 outside her residence in the East Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights.

At the time of her arrest, Rueda was moving her family’s car.

Activist groups in the Los Angeles area and friends of the activist believe that Rueda was targeted by officials and that her detention is a form of intimidation and retaliation.

Rueda, who has neither permanent resident status nor U.S. citizenship, held protests demanding the release of her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, who was arrested late last April.

The arrest of Vidal-Jaime, who also does not have permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship, created immediate controversy.

According to an article published by the Los Angeles Times, Vidal-Jaime was a suspect in a drug trafficking ring investigation. After searching her family residence, Vidal-Jaime was released by agents of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Shortly thereafter, Border Patrol agents proceeded to arrest Vidal-Jaime for living in the United States illegally.

Through a statement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department clarified that Department officers did not ask about Vidal-Jaime’s immigration status.

After her arrest, Rueda was transferred immediately the Otay Mesa Detention Center, where she was held when her release was ordered on Friday, June 9.

Calls for Rueda’s release were swift and numerous online.

Activist groups and members of her community began to use the hashtag #FreeClaudia through social networks to spread information about what happened to Rueda and phone numbers to inquire about her situation and release.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone across the state that has been helping me and to not forget about other people that are detained, that are in my shoes,” Rueda said in a video statement emitted on Friday.” Rueda said through a video emitted on Friday. “We need to keep fighting for everyone that is being detained in this unjust immigration system.”

“Claudia’s detention deeply concerned our campus community,” said CSU Los Angeles President William A. Covino. “We are very pleased that the judge has ordered her release and look forward to her resuming her studies.”

Rueda, who arrived to the United States as a six-year-old, is eligible for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, but never submitted an application.

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