Immigration officials take UC-Berkeley student into custody
University of California, Berkeley officials are scrambling to assist an illegal immigrant student who was recently detained by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
A spokeswoman for UC Berkeley told Campus Reform that the university is aware that Luis Mora has been detained, and is “seeking to confirm all the facts of this distressing news.”
“We are looking into the matter to determine everything we can do to support and assist the student during this difficult time,” she wrote. Declining to provide any further details, she indicated that Berkeley has “processes in place,” including attorney services, to support students “managing immigration issues.”
According to a Facebook post by Mora’s girlfriend, Jaleen Udarbe, San Diego Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents stopped the pair at an immigration checkpoint while they were walking home on the night of December 30. Udarbe reported that Mora was “honest with border patrols about his situation and told them that he is an undocumented student at UC Berkeley.”
According to Udarbe’s account, the agents then took Mora into custody and brought him to Brown Field Border Patrol Station, which sits just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico, later holding him at a nearby park before transferring him to a detention center.
Mora, who studies “Political Science Pre-law” at UC Berkeley, claims to have attended high school in California and graduated from the two-year Southwestern College before transferring to UC Berkeley as a junior. Udarbe stated that he “was planning to get into Law School” and “has no previous criminal record nor order of deportation.”
After Udarbe publicized Mora’s detention, other Berkeley students suggested she contact various UC Berkeley offices and organizations for help, with one reminding her of the “repeated emails saying that [the University of California system] supports its undocumented.”
The UC system and its president, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, have a long history of support for illegal immigrants, with many UC schools, including Berkeley, declaring themselves sanctuary campuses.
In 2016, moreover, the UC system earmarked more than $25 million to fund loans for illegal immigrant students, and in March, Napolitano visited Mexico to “strengthen ties” after President Trump’s election.
On Tuesday, Udarbe announced that “a campaign was started” to convince CBP to release Mora and to petition ICE to exercise prosecutorial discretion when they take custody of him.
“So many people are currently calling that the Border Patrols are urging our lawyer to stop this,” she wrote, crediting Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (R.I.S.E.), a UC Berkeley student group, with playing a significant part in the campaign.
Shortly before noon on Wednesday, Udarbe wrote in a now-deleted post that, “Luis filed a complaint because he was only supposed to be in the detention center for 42 hours. It has been 85 hours since he has been in there.”
She claimed that the officers at the detention center, which is “very overcrowded” with 61 detainees, “know about him because of the campaign.”
Early Thursday morning, Udarbe amended the campaign image to indicate that Mora is being held by ICE. Both UC Berkeley College Democrats and California College Democrats tweeted the new campaign image.
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