By Jose Servin
Undocumented activists rang in the New Year with a call to action. Customs and Border Patrol agents picked up Luis Angel Mora, an undocumented student at UC Berkeley, on New Year's Eve after he made a wrong turn into an immigration checkpoint near the border. Since then, Mora has spent the past seven days unjustly detained at Otay Mesa, a privately run detention center that his attorney, famed immigrant rights lawyer Prerna Lal, says has been sued for human trafficking.
Mora immigrated to the United States from Colombia on a visa when he was 11-years-old. His detention could've been prevented if he was eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but with the arbitrary restrictions under which undocumented youth were able to apply, he entered the U.S. a year too late. Despite not qualifying for DACA, Mora could've been eligible for relief under a few versions of the DREAM Act being considered in congress. If politicians had heeded the voices of undocumented activists in December and taken action prior to the New Year, Mora would be getting ready for Spring semester rather than sitting in a detention center.
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Leaders at UC Berkeley, a school with a historical reputation for free speech, have been silent on Mora’s detention. This is despite a previous statement by current UC president and previous Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that reaffirmed "UC’s vigorous support for all undocumented students and staff" after DACA's repeal. It appears UC Berkeley is more proactive in defending speaking engagements by xenophobic bigots like Milo Yiannopoulos, who at one point threatened to publicly out its undocumented students.
Despite issues with the "Dreamer narrative" that Orange County Immigrant Youth United have often pointed out in our column, it’s clear that even by the strictest standards set by immigration hardliners, Mora isn't a threat to anyone. We will not stop until Mora is free from detention and able to continue his studies. At the same time, we must continue to fight for relief for the thousands of other immigrants who like him, could easily face deplorable detention conditions.
To help Mora you can donate to his bond fund, spread awareness by using #FreeLuis on Twitter, and pressure your local leaders to take action now!