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Immigration Activist Upset Her Mom Might Get Deported Over Massive Drug Bust

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Immigration activists are protesting the looming deportation of an illegal immigrant woman swept up during a cocaine bust, who they allege is the victim of federal retaliation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents arrested Teresa Vidal-Jaime, a 59-year-old mother living in the U.S. illegally since 2001, Monday during a massive drug raid at an apartment complex in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Claudia Rueda, Vidal-Jamie’s daughter and an immigration activist, joined protesters Tuesday alleging federal officials are targeting Vidal-Jamie as retribution for Rueda’s political activities, reports Los Angeles Times.

Agents traced a vehicle suspected of crossing the border with cocaine back to the apartment complex Monday where they witnessed men, including Vidal-Jamie’s husband Hugo Rueda, unloading drugs. Authorities descended on the vehicle, arresting four men and seizing 33 pounds of cocaine. Rueda claims her mother knew nothing about her husband’s drug trade. Authorities say Vidal-Jamie gave consent for them to search the apartment, where they found roughly $600,000 in cash and an ounce of crystal meth.

“Despite being told she would not be detained as long she cooperated, my mother was apprehended during an illegally conducted raid at my apartment,” Claudia Rueda said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I know my mother is innocent, and both [the Sheriff’s Department and Border Patrol] know that, which is why they were supposed to let her go.”

The Immigrant Youth Coalition, an organization representing young illegal immigrants, organized the rally Tuesday evening, which drew roughly 70 protesters. They allege authorities mislead Vidal-Jamie and continue to mislead the public on the circumstances of her detainment. Rueda and the protesters claim the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and border agents arrested Rueda due to her immigration status, while representatives for the Sheriff’s Department claim their officers never asked for documentation.

“Her mother didn’t have anything to do with this,” Marcela Hernandez, one of the protest organizers, told Los Angeles Times. “[Vidal-Jaime] didn’t know anything about anything in the apartment. She let them in. We think it is retaliation against her mother for her daughter’s activism.”

Vidal-Jamie is reportedly being held at a detention facility in Chula Vista awaiting deportation proceedings.

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