US immigration

Video of woman dragged away from daughters in immigration arrest sparks outrage

Immigrant rights activists questioned the aggressive tactics by federal agents

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2018, 2:48am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2018, 6:34am

A video of a woman being pulled away from her weeping daughters on a California street and shoved into a Customs and Border Protection vehicle has gone viral and sparked outrage for the way federal agents are enforcing immigration laws.

“Get in the car,” someone can be heard yelling in the video.

Perla Morales-Luna tried to hold onto a woman’s arm as she was dragged away.

With her three daughter’s watching, the agents pried her grip away and shoved her into a waiting van.

The Border Patrol said Perla Morales-Luna was identified as an organiser for a trans-national criminal smuggling ring and was arrested March 3 for being in the country illegally.

Morales-Luna’s lawyer Andres Moreno II, said Friday he was shocked by video posted on social media that showed the arrest in National City, south of San Diego.

“You can do your job without causing such a dramatic separation of family members,” Moreno said. “She’s a single mother. She was walking with her three minor children. The officers came up and ripped her away from her kids, threw her in the car and left her kids on the street.”

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Moreno said his client denies the allegation of involvement in smuggling. She has not been charged with any smuggling crimes and the Border Patrol has offered no evidence of that.

The video of the arrest, which spread across social media on Thursday, alarmed immigrant rights activists, who questioned the aggressive tactics by federal authorities.

The officers came up and ripped her away from her kids
Andres Moreno II, Morales-Luna’s lawyer

The arrest was described as “grotesque” by Benjamin Prado, coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee’s San Diego US-Mexico Border Program.

Prado told the Los Angeles Times that he was concerned about the “terror” the woman’s daughters suffered.

“It is very quickly accelerating to a very tyrannical form of detention and arrest, snatching people up off the street.”

The Border Patrol, which characterised the arrest as a “targeted operation,” said Thursday that Morales-Luna was in the agency’s custody awaiting transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for removal proceedings.

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The lawyer said he will fight deportation of Morales-Luna, who came to the US from Mexico at 15.

Morales-Luna’s daughters, ages 17, 15 and 12, are staying with relatives in the San Diego area.

The clip was posted to Facebook by a teacher of one of Morales’ daughters, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The arrest drew the social media spotlight amid heightened focus on immigrants who are in the county illegally.

The Trump administration sued this week to block a California law that limits local police cooperation with federal immigration agents.

The administration contends the law impedes removal of criminals, but supporters of sanctuary laws characterise them as public safety measures and assert that police need cooperation from immigrant communities to fight crime.

Fears of ramped-up deportation efforts recently led Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to issue a public warning of an impending immigration sweep, saying the city would “continue to inform all residents about their constitutional rights.”

President Donald Trump plans to visit California next week to examine prototypes of the wall he pledges to build along the US-Mexico border.