22-Year-Old Immigrant Rights Activist Claudia Rueda Detained by Border Patrol

Claudia Rueda/Facebook

A Los Angeles-based immigration rights' activist and college student was detained by Border Patrol on Thursday, and her lawyer believes the arrest was retribution for the young woman successfully advocating for her mother's release from custody just days prior.

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Claudia Rueda, 22, was apprehended while moving her family’s car outside their Boyle Heights home.

“She was moving the car because of street sweeping,” Monika Langarica, the woman’s lawyer, told the Los Angeles Times. “Before she got out of the car, three vehicles pulled up” and Rueda was taken away.

Rueda, who focuses on Latin American studies at Cal State L.A., was brought to a detention facility near San Diego.

Border Patrol spokesperson Jose Fernandez told the newspaper that seven people in the Los Angeles area had been detained as part of a large investigation of cross-border drug trafficking, though he said he couldn’t mention names because of "privacy concerns."

Langarcia said there is nothing linking Rueda, who grew up in the United States, to drug-related activity. She believes the woman's arrest could be retaliation for involving herself in her mother's, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, case.

Federal authorities picked Vidal-Jaime up in April during a raid at a Boyle Heights apartment complex, where more than 30 pounds of cocaine and $600,000 were discovered. Vidal-Jaime’s husband, along with three other men, was arrested on suspicion of drug possession.

Despite being cleared of involvement in any drug activity, Vidal-Jaime was held in custody for weeks.

Rueda, a local activist, played a major role in advocating for her mother’s release, and, despite protest from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she was freed last week after posting $2,000 bail.

“There is a lot that suggests retaliatory behavior on Border Patrol’s part,” Langarica, who also represented Vidal-Jaime, said.

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Rueda is eligible for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, but hasn’t been able to save enough money to apply.