Claudia Rueda in screenshot from video by the Immigrant Youth Coalition

A 22-year-old immigrant rights activist and Cal State LA student was detained by federal agents Thursday, less than a month after her mother was taken into custody by federal authorities during a drug bust at the family’s home in Boyle Heights.

According to social media posts by the Immigrant Youth Coalition, Claudia Rueda was detained while she was moving her family’s car for street sweeping. The post details that federal agents first attempted to enter her family’s home but were denied access because they did not have a warrant:

Rueda’s attorney Monika Langarica told the Los Angeles Times that Rueda was being held by the U.S. Border Patrol at a detention facility near San Diego.

In a statement sent to LAist –which first reported the story– the Border Patrol said that its agents detained several people Thursday in Los Angeles as part of “a criminal investigation of a cross-border narcotics smuggling organization.” A spokesperson for the agency told the Times that seven people had been detained, but declined to identify them citing “privacy concerns.”

But the lawyer told the Times that Rueda had no connection to alleged criminal activity and had been detained because of her activism and involvement in her mother’s immigration case. Rueda and other activists participated in a protest at a federal building in downtown Los Angeles hours after her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, was detained by Border Patrol Agents.

Vidal-Jaime was detained during a drug bust at the family home on the 700 block of Bernal Street which yielded nearly 33 pounds of cocaine and $600,000 in cash. Four men were arrested in the bust, including Vidal-Jaime’s husband Hugo Rueda.

Activists have questioned why Vidal-Jaime was arrested in the first place. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the local agency that assisted in the drug raid, detained and released Vidal-Jaime once they determined she was not part of the drug ring. At some point, Border Patrol agents arrested her and took her to a facility for deportation processing, “upon discovering that she was living in the country illegally,” the department said in a statement.

The Times reported that in spite of objections of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Vidal-Jaime was granted bail last week and released May 12 after posting $2,000. Langarica, who also represented Vidal-Jaime, said Rueda was arrested as retaliation for her involvement in her mother’s release.

According to the Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles, Rueda has lived most of her life in the United States and is eligible for deportation protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but has been unable to pay for the filing fees to get that protection. The group said Rueda majors in Latin American Studies at Cal State LA.

In a Twitter post, the group published a letter mailed to students by Cal State LA President William A. Covino, in which he says he is “deeply concerned” about Rueda’s well-being:

On Thursday, various groups began a social media campaign with the hashtag #FREECLAUDIA, asking that she be released and allowed to apply for DACA protection. Early Friday the group posted a picture of activists staging a sit-down protest at the San Ysidro border.

Image above: screenshot from video posted by Immigrant Youth Coalition.

Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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