Editor’s Note: A version of this op-ed was previously released on RISE’s Facebook page and has been republished with permission.
Chancellor Carol Christ neglected Luis Mora until enough media pressure forced her to address the issue. Since Mora’s campaign started Jan. 1, Christ never approached the “UC Berkeley students who are making extraordinary efforts to secure the release of (Mora).” The “UC Berkeley students” the chancellor is referring to are members of Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education, or RISE, who launched and spearheaded this campaign without any support from UC Berkeley. To this day, Christ has not sent any message directly to any of the students who have mobilized in support of Mora, nor has she explained anything regarding privacy laws. Her silence has been absolute.
Christ said she recognizes the sense of urgency in this matter; however, she refused to comment on Mora’s detention for more than a week. During this entire time, RISE mobilized to receive the support from the student body, community members and politicians. It was the great amount of support from community members that allowed us to get the support of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. We refuse to let government relations staff or any UC Berkeley administration official take credit for the work that was done by the undocumented community. It was our tweets, Facebook posts, emails and fierce advocacy that forced Christ to respond with a statement for our community member whom she can’t even name correctly.
To Christ, his name is Luis Mora, and it is his community who showed up first to fight for him and it is his community who will bring him back. If you really want to do something, actually listen to what we have to say. You asked us to meet with you back in October so you could “listen” to our needs, yet you continue to neglect our existence in this campus. Instead of “exploring ways” that will allow you to “use campus influence and resources,” here is a list of things you can do:
- Write your own letter of support and make UC President Janet Napolitano, along with your administrative team, write one as well.
- Don’t just donate money to Mora’s fundraiser, but also to the bond fund to which RISE begged you to donate money three months ago.
- Donate to the Undocumented Student Program, or USP.
- Ensure all undocumented students on this campus, especially “un-DACA-mented” students such as Mora, will have access to a job and other basic needs (as you promised us in our meeting last October).
- Give the USP attorney Prerna Lal an office, because if they would have had an office on campus, Luis would have been able to meet with them, and his current situation could have been prevented.
- Give every USP staff member a visible and stable space on campus — this includes the USP director, paralegals, counselors and psychologists.
To our community members, remember that we are here for you. RISE has been going up in arms for every community member that has approached us. We will fight for you every step of the way.
María Atanacio, Paola Correa, Michael Mitchell, Anny Patiño and Valeria Suarez are the core members of RISE.