A 22-year-old Boyle Heights immigration activist and Cal State Los Angeles student detained last month by Border Patrol agents was released from custody Friday.
Claudia Rueda was able to leave the Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego –where she had been in custody since her May 18 arrest– after a federal judge released her on her own recognizance. Her release was announced on Facebook by the Immigrant Youth Coalition, an activist group to which Rueda belongs.
“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, and that we need to keep fighting for everyone that’s being detained in this unjust immigration system,” Rueda said in a video statement posted by the group Friday.
“Today, the judge did what ICE and the Border Patrol had unfairly refused to do and freed Claudia from detention,” Monika Langarica, an attorney with the ABA Immigration Project of San Diego who represented Rueda, told the Los Angeles Times.
Langarica said that Rueda, who is undocumented and specializes in Latin American Studies at Cal State LA, was eligible to apply for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but had not done so because she didn’t have the $550 needed for the application.
The attorney said she was helping Rueda fill out the application on Friday and that they hoped that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would terminate proceedings against her client.
Rueda was detained 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. She was staying at a relative’s home and moving her mother’s car for street sweeping when federal agents approached her and took her to the detention center. Activists complained that Rueda had been detained in retaliation for her activism in favor of her mother, who was released on bail May 12.
At the time of Rueda’s arrest the Border Patrol said that it had detained seven people in Los Angeles as part of “a criminal investigation of a cross-border narcotics smuggling organization.” Besides Rueda, the arrested were identified as five Mexican nationals and one Guatemalan.
An editorial written by two of Rueda’s professors at Cal State LA and published by the Los Angeles Times last week said that several of the arrested were Boyle Heights residents and some lived in Rueda’s former apartment. It also said that four of the arrested were immediately deported to Tijuana.
On Friday, the Immigrant Youth Coalition said it was raising funds to help the remaining two who were still being detained in Otay Mesa.