U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have given context to a viral video that showed plain clothes officers ripping a mother away from her children in the middle of the street in San Diego.
Perla Morales-Luna, 36, was taken into custody by CBP on Saturday (Mar.3), while going to pay her rent with her three daughters. The video was posted on social media by Judith Castro, one of the daughter’s teachers. In it, plain clothes officers carry away Morales-Luna as her children are sobbing. One of the officers hands her daughters the keys to their home before driving away with their mother.
In a statement to NBC San Diego Friday (Mar. 9), Agent Michael J. Scappechio claimed Morales-Luna helped lead a “criminal smuggling organization” in East County. Morales-Luna reportedly hired drivers to help cross undocumented people from the border to national city safe houses. Other suspects were arrested, but Morales-Luna wasn’t. While CBP has named this the root of her arrest, she is now with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for being in the country without documentation.
Her lawyer Andrés Moreno II says she’s been in the country since she was 15 and her children are U.S. citizens.
“It’s not right that she’s been separated from her family as a result of simply being here illegally,” Moreno said. CBP claims they tried working with Morales-Luna about the case, but she reportedly refuse to cooperate. Moreno says her legal status is a civil case, not a crimminal one. Blending the two together to defend their actions is one thing Moreno cannot get behind.
“To go from no criminal history to she’s part of this elaborate scheme, and then process her as a non-criminal alien … that’s what’s wrong,” Moreno said. Where’s the proof of the allegation? Where’s the criminal charges? Where’s the indictment? We don’t have any of that,” Moreno added “If she’s a criminal, why is she being processed administratively?”
Her daughters are currently staying with their aunt and uncle. Castro showed remorse for her student and her mother. “Honestly I couldn’t watch the whole thing,” Castro, who is also acting as the family’s spokesperson said. “Just seeing a mom being approached by agents who are dressed in civilian clothing, with no badges to be seen, and just literally dragging the mom away into the border patrol truck.”
Castro, Moreno and others plan to meet this weekend to create neighborhood watch groups in an effort to warn neighbors of questionable Border Control activity.
Teacher of Morales-Luna’s daughters, Judith Castro, says she was separated from her parents by deportation years ago. Asks how many videos it will take to care about these families. pic.twitter.com/9zARowVEZv
— MEBurks (@MEBurks) March 9, 2018