A woman whose controversial arrest by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents last March drew national attention faced an immigration judged Tuesday and had her deportation cancellation request denied in a tentative ruling.
Perla Morales, 36, was walking with her children when she was taken into custody by CBP on March 3 near 24th and D streets in National City.
CBP said Morales-Luna was part of a transnational human smuggling networkin which she was responsible for recruiting drivers to transport undocumented immigrants from eastern San Diego County to a "stash house" in National City.
Morales was released from custody two weeks later after a judge ruled she wasn’t a threat to her community or a flight risk.
She wasn’t charged with any crimes, but her removal case has continued in immigration court since her arrest. At her hearing on Tuesday, a judge made a tentative ruling that lead to her deportation.
“The judge said today his decision is going to be to deny Perla’s application for cancellation of removal based upon his conclusion that she did not establish that she’s a person of good moral character,” Morale’s attorney William Baker said.
A former attorney of Morale’s described her case as anything but normal, from the fashion in which she was detained, to the CBP’s response to criticism of her arrest, and their decision not to charge her with any crimes.
The video of Morales-Luna’s arrest was widely circulated on social media and led some in the community to criticize CBP’s arrest practices, saying it wasn’t right for her three non-adult children to be left alone with no guardian on a street corner.
CBP released a statement in the days after the arrest that said, in part, that the video “Clearly shows the arresting agents carried out their duties appropriately, even when faced with a barrage of insults and confrontational agitators.”
Before making a final decision on her deportation, An immigration judge will review a packet of documents Morales’s defense believes will prove her good character.