22-Year-Old Immigrant Rights Activist Detained By Border Patrol In Boyle Heights [Updated]
Claudia Rueda, a 22-year-old immigrant rights activist, was detained by Customs and Border Patrol agents on Thursday morning in Boyle Heights. The Cal State L.A. student and Immigrant Youth Coalition organizer has been prominent in local activism efforts, and led protests after her mother Teresa Vidal-Jaime was detained last month. Vidal-Jaime was picked up by federal authorities during a large-scale drug bust at the Boyle Heights apartment complex where she lives; she was later cleared of any involvement, but still faces deportation.
At the time, some in the immigrant rights community viewed Vidal-Jaime's arrest as retribution for her daughter's activism, according to the L.A. Times.
According to a Facebook post from the Immigrant Youth Coalition, Rueda and her family were the targets of a raid conducted by federal officials early this morning in Boyle Heights. IYC's post states that agents attempted to enter the family home but were denied access after failing to provide a warrant. Rueda was moving her mother's car for street cleaning at the time, and was detained somewhere outside the home without anyone being notified. After not knowing where she was for several hours, organizers and loved ones were able to determine that she had been detained and moved to a detention center in Chula Vista.
Rueda has lived most of her life in the United States and is studying Latin American Studies at Cal State L.A., according to a statement from the Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles chapter. The DSA-LA reports that she is eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection and "has been preparing for apply for DACA but had been unable to gather the money for the filing fees."
“Claudia is an extremely supportive, empowering, and hard working friend. All throughout high school, she encouraged students to continue their studies in higher education, becoming involved in afterschool programs like ESCALERA," her best friend told the DSA. "Throughout our college career, she has continuously supported me, offered her home, and her wisdom to continue being a hardworking student and following our passions.”
It remains unclear why Rueda was detained. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson told LAist that ICE was not involved in the action, which was reportedly carried out by Customs and Border Patrol. CBP led the raid on the home last month that Rueda's mother was swept up in, but it also remains unclear if this was in any way related. No one from CBP was able to comment, despite repeated attempts to get in touch.
Update [7:45 p.m.]: Border Patrol responded to our inquiry with the following statement:
This morning, U.S. Border Patrol agents conducted enforcement actions in Los Angeles, Calif., targeting multiple individuals at numerous locations. This enforcement action resulted from a criminal investigation of a cross-border narcotics smuggling organization. The Border Patrol targeted individuals who are associated with that organization. Agents arrested these individuals for federal immigration violations. The U.S. Border Patrol is committed to enhancing the safety of communities by disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations engaged in illicit cross-border smuggling.
Cal State L.A. has also released the following statement: