(RNN) – A video showing a woman being forcefully taken off the street in front of her daughters by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in California has been viewed 10 million times and prompted a response from the agency.
The roughly two-and-a-half-minute video was posted by teacher Judith Castro-Rangel on Thursday and has received thousands of shares.
It shows a woman, identified by Castro-Rangel as Perla Morales, being hauled off the sidewalk in National City, near San Diego, by a team of agents as her three daughters scream and cry after her.
Castro-Rangel said one of the daughters was her student. In her post she said “the brutalized injustice that is happening in this country is sad.”
Federal immigration enforcement has focused recently on California. The Justice Department is suing the state over its sanctuary laws, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a string of 232 arrests in Northern California at the beginning of the month.
Immigration agencies have faced criticism for their aggressive enforcement under the Trump administration. California Sen. Kamala Harris, a likely contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, said ICE should “not abuse the power” it has in an interview on MSNBC on Friday.
The San Diego office defended their actions with Morales. They said on Friday she was identified as a “human smuggling facilitator who recruited drivers to transport illegal aliens” who had just crossed the border to a “stash house” in National City.
Her lawyer, however, denied that and criticized their tactics. The attorney, Andres Moreno II, said: “You can do your job without causing such a dramatic separation of family members. It’s overkill.”
The agency statement said “agents carried out their duties appropriately.”
A woman who lives near where the arrest occurred, Jessica Carrillo, told The San Diego Union-Tribune: “That was something I won’t forget. It was pretty shocking.”
In a follow-up post on Friday, Castro-Rangel wrote: “We have the moral imperative to protect our residents regardless of their legal status. We must not only raise awareness but take action to bring a stop to the terrorizing acts of immigration agents in our cities. We need a change, a call for policy changes, a call for equal opportunity when it comes to immigration.”
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