LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Mexican woman and Cal State Los Angeles student has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security alleging that DHS rejected her DACA application as an act of retaliation following her high-profile arrest last year and her immigrant rights activism.
Claudia Rueda, 23, and her attorneys held a news conference Tuesday morning in downtown L.A. to announce that she is suing DHS over its “unjust denial” of her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application.
Rueda claims that the only difference between her application and those of other immigrants approved for DACA status is her “political speech and activism” against the department’s immigration policies, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court.
On May 18, 2017, Rueda was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents on immigration charges outside her Boyle Heights home in connection with what the USBP said was a drug smuggling investigation.
Rueda’s arrest came a month after her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, was also arrested and released on immigration violations in connection with the same investigation. Neither Rueda nor her mother ever faced drug charges.
In June of 2017, after spending three weeks in DHS custody in San Diego, an immigration judge ordered that Rueda be released after her attorney submitted a brief which included letters of support from the likes of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D- Los Angeles).
On Tuesday, Rueda said she still faces deportation proceedings at an immigration hearing expected at the end of next month.
“I’m not going to stay silent when I face and continue to face this legal violence and retaliation against my existence,” Rueda told reporters.
According to the lawsuit, the rejection of Rueda’s DACA application violated DHS’ internal policies because immigration authorities did not make a request for evidence or provide Rueda with a notice of their intent to deny her application.
The embattled DACA program, implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012, allows about 780,000 people who were brought to the U.S. as undocumented children to receive a permit that lets them continue to live and work here. The Trump administration attempted to end the program in September 2017, but his decision was overturned by the courts.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)