Undocumented student in ICE custody could be headed back to Berkeley

UC Berkeley student Luis Mora (right), with girlfriend Jaleen Udarbe, was granted the minimum bail Wednesday, allowing for his release. Photo: YouCaring

Luis Mora, the undocumented UC Berkeley student whose detention has inspired outrage, will be headed back to Berkeley soon, according to his attorney.

Prerna Lal with the East Bay Community Law Center, and UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program, tweeted Wednesday that her client had been granted the minimum bond amount that morning. A document attached to her tweet showed bail had been set at $1,500.

“Law and justice prevailed today,” Lal tweeted. “Luis Mora has been granted the absolute minimum bond and we’re heading to [Immigration Customs and Enforcement] to pay it now so he is released today.” Later in the morning, she said the attorney overseeing Mora’s case was in court, so the release might be postponed.

Mora was arrested in San Diego County while visiting his girlfriend over the holidays. The couple took a wrong turn and ran into an immigration checkpoint. Mora was arrested on suspicion of overstaying a temporary visa. According to a statement by an advocacy group supporting Mora, the 20-year-old junior’s parents brought him to the U.S. from Colombia when he was 11.


Mora was initially held at a Customs and Border Patrol temporary facility, then transferred to ICE’s custody. He has been held at the privately run Otay Mesa Detention Center since Jan. 3.

Lal, as well as the student advocacy group Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education, and numerous public officials have campaigned for Mora’s release so he could return to school while he awaited court proceedings.

An ICE spokeswoman told Berkeleyside earlier this month that Customs and Border Patrol had not chosen to set a bond when Mora was arrested, but said the student had a right to request one. ICE also has the authority to parole detainees, she said.

Once Mora returns to school for his spring semester, he will wait to learn the date of his first deportation hearing in San Francisco, said Lal in an email to Berkeleyside. The first hearing might not take place until early 2019, she said.

The development in Mora’s case comes a day after the revelation that ICE is planning a major sweep in Northern California cities. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a source connected to the agency said ICE is seeking to arrest 1,500 undocumented people, in a challenge to cities and a state that have declared themselves sanctuaries for  undocumented immigrants.