Two weeks after plain clothes immigration agents aggressively ripped a mother of three from her daughters, the agency has released her without a charge. The video, which showed 36-year-old Perla Morales Luna walking near 24th and D streets in National City, California, quickly went viral. At the time, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) accused her of being “a human smuggling facilitator” who “recruited drivers to transport” undocumented immigrants. However, after being in custody for two weeks, she’s been released and has not been charged with smuggling. As a matter of fact, her case never made it to prosecutors.
Shortly after her arrest, her lawyer held a press conference, where he said Perla had no criminal record and had lived in the United States for more than half her life. This week Judge Zsa Zsa Depaolo – who read several letters attesting to her character – said Perla didn’t pose a danger to society and released her. Though the agency won’t pursue smuggling charges, it has placed Morales’ case in deportation proceedings, meaning the family’s fight likely isn’t over.
For Morales Luna and her daughters, the reunion was emotional. Her oldest daughter, 17-year-old Yessica Estrada, called March 3 the worst day of her life. She believes that her sister recording the incident has an impact. “I think that made a big difference,” she said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It made it so people were able to see what went on, that these things happen to people.”