LA immigration activist supporters want ICE to use discretion in deportation case

Supporters of local immigrant rights activist Claudia Rueda, 22, rally Thursday in front of Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights.
Supporters of local immigrant rights activist Claudia Rueda, 22, rally Thursday in front of Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

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A judge in San Diego Friday ordered the release of 22-year-old immigrant rights activist Claudia Rueda on her own recognizance but her deportation case is moving forward even as supporters push to get it dropped.

Rueda had been held by immigration officials at a San Diego detention facility pending the Friday hearing where her attorney sought her release.

Rueda was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents last month in Boyle Heights, following the April arrests of her parents. All are in the country illegally.

Authorities conducted a drug raid in late April that led to the arrest of her father, Hugo Rueda, on narcotics charges. Her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, does not face criminal charges but could be deported. She has been released on bond as her case proceeds. 

When Claudia Rueda was arrested last month, Border Patrol officials said she and several others had been picked up in connection with the April arrests but she has not been criminally charged. 

Her arrest riled immigrant rights activists, who said she was targeted because she advocated for her mother's release. 

A Border Patrol spokesman reached Thursday would not provide details on why Rueda may have been targeted for arrest. 

Her supporters rallied Thursday in Boyle Heights at Roosevelt High School, Rueda’s alma mater. 

"We got letters from her professors, her teachers, and just like community members," said Jazmin Hernandez with the Immigrant Youth Coalition, an activist group that Rueda had joined. 

Hernandez said Rueda, a Cal State Los Angeles student, would qualify for protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides temporary residency status and work permits for young adults who came to the U.S. as minors.

Supporters hope that once she is released from detention, she can apply for DACA. However, she still faces possible deportation for now.

The letters of support form part of a package that Rueda's attorney, Monika Langarica, is presenting to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She is hoping that immigration officials will use discretion and not push for Rueda's deportation.

"ICE can choose not to continue with the prosecution just by going ahead and moving to terminate," Langarica said.

ICE officials said prosecutorial discretion can be used on a case-by-case basis, but that they would not speculate on the outcome of Rueda's case. A spokeswoman said it's currently in the hands of the court.

This story has been updated.