ICE: Detained UC Berkeley student wasn't allowed to enroll
The University of California, Berkeley student who was detained by immigration officials over New Year’s should never have been allowed to enroll in the first place, according to ICE.
In a conversation with Campus Reform, a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed that UC Berkeley student Luis Mora, whose arrest and detention caused student uproar, lacks the necessary visa to be legally enrolled in a university.
"In the eyes of the federal government, Luis Mora was never legally enrolled as a student at any institution of higher learning in the United States."
Mora, a junior transfer student studying political science and pre-law, made headlines on December 30 when immigration enforcement agents apprehended him at a checkpoint in San Diego, California. After Mora’s girlfriend Jaleen Udarbe used his Facebook page to request help, the university-affiliated group R.I.S.E. arraigned for attorney and social media crusader Prerna Lal to represent Mora.
Border Patrol subsequently transferred Mora into ICE custody and he soon posted bail. He has received support from Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representative Barbara Lee, and UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, but RISE has called the university’s commitment to Mora and other illegal immigrants into question.
When Campus Reform received a tip calling into question Mora’s enrollment status at UC Berkeley, it reached out to both the university and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The university tactfully denied receiving “any requests from ICE to cancel a student’s registration,” but refused to explicitly state Mora’s status as a student. Mora’s lawyer told Campus Reform that “Luis Mora is in excellent academic standing, attending all his classes diligently, and a positive contribution to our Berkeley community.”
Spokespersons for ICE assured Campus Reform that the agency has no records indicating that it contacted Berkeley with a request to dis-enroll Mora, but explained that in the eyes of the federal government, Luis Mora was never legally enrolled as a student at any institution of higher learning in the United States.
In order for a non-citizen to legally attend a U.S. college, that person must have DACA status or posses a student visa. ICE confirmed that Mora does not have DACA status, which his lawyer previously made public. According to ICE, government records also indicate that Mora does not possess a student visa. When Mora overstayed his temporary visa in 2009, breaking federal law, he became ineligible to obtain a student visa.
ICE explained that some universities have policies in place allowing international students without student visas or DACA status to attend, but that these students are still subject to deportation if discovered.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SFarkas48