SAN DIEGO (CBSLA.com/AP) — A judge on Friday ordered the release of a Mexican woman while the government seeks to deport her, rejecting arguments that two arrests while demonstrating in support of people in the United States illegally justified requiring that she wear a monitoring device.
Claudia Rueda, 22, was on her way back to her home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights from San Diego Friday night after spending about three weeks in custody.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone throughout the state that has been helping me,” Rueda said in a video taken just after her release.
Rueda plans to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started in 2012 under President Barack Obama that shields immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children from being deported. Her case has drawn attention because she has no criminal record and is an immigration activist.
The immigration judge, Annie S. Garcy, said holding Rueda without bond was “unduly severe” and allowed her to be released on her own recognizance. She noted Ruedas’ academic and other achievements and was incredulous when a government attorney asked that Rueda be required to wear a monitoring device.
“Wow, an ankle bracelet? Really?” said Garcy, who is on temporary assignment from Newark, New Jersey, under an administration effort to give higher priority to cases along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The attorney, Matthew Hanson, responded that Rueda was arrested twice, once for trespassing and once for disorderly conduct. Her attorney, Monika Langarica, said those arrests occurred during peaceful demonstrations to support people in the country illegally. She was charged in only one case, which was dismissed.
Rueda, a student at California State University, Los Angeles, was arrested on immigration charges May 18 outside a relative’s Los Angeles home in connection with what the U.S. Border Patrol said was a drug smuggling investigation. Her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, was arrested on immigration violations in April in connection with the same investigation and later released from custody. Neither Rueda nor her mother was arrested on drug charges.
“She was arrested six days after the release of her mom from ICE custody,” her attorney Monika Langarica said. “In anticipation of her mom’s release from ICE custody, Claudia led a really successful public campaign to garner support for her mom’s release. And upon being released, six days later, Border Patrol showed up at Claudia’s family’s home. I’m not prepared to speak to the motive, but I think if one looks at the timeline of events, it looks very targeted.”
In a statement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it will comply with Friday’s order to release Rueda and will consider any additional requests by her attorney.
Langarica submitted a brief that ran more than 100 pages in support of Rueda that included letters from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, a Los Angeles Democrat.
President Donald Trump has upheld Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals while expanding the scope of immigrants subject to deportation beyond people with criminal convictions. During Trump’s first 100 days in office, ICE said it arrested more than 41,000 people on immigration charges, an increase of nearly 40 percent from the same period a year earlier. Nearly 75 percent had criminal convictions.
Rueda didn’t apply for the Obama-era program to shield young immigrants from deportation because she couldn’t afford the $465 application fee, Langarica said. A scholarship fund has since agreed to pay the fee, now $495.
The 15-minute hearing was held under tight security at a privately-run detention facility in San Diego, where Rueda has been held. A band played cumbia and ranchera music for a small crowd of supporters.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)