Perla Morales-Luna was seen clinging to her daughters as Border Patrol agents pulled her away from them in a video that has gone viral. Moments later, she was thrown into a van that quickly drove away.
The video of her arrest was made by a teacher of one of the arrestee’s daughters.
Morales-Luna was taken into custody because she is suspected of being in the United States without documentation and because federal officials claim she has alleged ties to a smuggling organization, border agents said.
Despite the claims, immigrants across the country might now feel that this is the type of treatment that awaits them if they are ever approached by border agents.
Benjamin Prado is the coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee’s San Diego U.S.-Mexico Border Program, an advocacy group that works to "secure human rights and self-determination for migrants and border communities."
“It's really a grotesque way of detaining and enforcing immigration law," he said. "It is very quickly accelerating to a very tyrannical form of detention and arrest, snatching people up off the street."
The Border Patrol spokesperson, Theron Francisco, said that Morales-Luna is an organizer for a smuggling operation. Still, he added that she is not being held because of that. Instead, she’s being taken to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency so officials may begin the deportation process.
Prado said that the reasons for Morales-Luna's arrest don’t matter. What matters is that the entire incident will have a negative effect on her daughters.
“Our biggest concern is the manner in which this raid took place, the violent manner in which they detained her and pushed her in," he explained. "The terror and trauma that is being imposed on the children, her daughters.”
While the three daughters are now under the care of their uncle, it’s still unclear if officials truly know whether Morales-Luna is part of the smuggling ring, or if they are simply investigating her potential ties with the organization but ended up using this as an excuse to carry out the forceful arrest.
National City, California, where this incident occurred, is not considered a sanctuary territory. However, it has declared itself a “compassionate community” that supports Senate Bill 54, which dictates that local officials are not required to tell federal agents when immigrants who might be subject to deportation are being released from custody.
Perhaps, Prado said, this sting might be part of the federal government’s measure to target cities that declare themselves welcoming and sanctuaries to immigrants. If that’s the case, then immigrants in many other cities could be at risk of being targeted in such manner. This could result in chaos if an exodus of undocumented immigrants takes place. In that case, that will not only hurt the economy, but it will also hurt federal revenue.
Is that what President Donald Trump wants to happen?