ASUC senator-elect arrested in San Bernardino immigration rally

ASUC Senator-elect Ju Hong and six other students were released from jail Wednesday morning after being arrested in San Bernardino on Tuesday for blocking a city street during an immigration rally.

Hong, an undocumented student at UC Berkeley, and the six others were charged with unlawful assembly and failure to disperse for blocking an “extremely busy street” and refusing to leave.

All seven were released Wednesday at around 3:30 a.m. from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Central Detention Center, according to UC Berkeley student Mario Lopez, Hong’s friend and campaign manager during the 2011 ASUC General Elections.

Hong, who has strongly advocated for the rights of undocumented students, had traveled to San Bernardino Valley College for a “coming out” rally for undocumented students from across the state.

According to Lopez, Hong had decided to engage in a “peaceful act of disobedience: to shed light and stop controversial anti-immigrant policies and practices” with other students.

San Bernardino Community College District officials told the Contra Costa Times that the rally went smoothly until protesters left campus grounds and blocked traffic on Mt. Vernon Avenue.

“Once they started to jockey with the traffic and the buses, life got a little more complicated,” district spokesperson Alisa Moore told the Contra Costa Times. “If I were testing that law, I don’t think I’d test it with the San Bernardino police.”

Friends were concerned that the students may have faced deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a result of their arrests.

However, ICE officials have said that the agency will not be seeking detainers on the students who were arrested.

“ICE is focused on sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses first on criminal aliens and others who pose a threat to public safety,” said ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice in a statement.

According to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman, Hong has been “at the forefront” of advocating for the DREAM Act to ensure that undocumented students are “given an equal shot at higher education.”

The California DREAM Act is composed of two bills — AB 130 and AB 131 — and would provide state grants and financial aid to undocumented students attending college in California.

Both bills are currently being considered by the state Senate.

“At Berkeley, we hold our activists in high esteem and I hope all students at Cal are aware that Ju put his own well-being on the line advocating for a just cause,” Freeman said in an email. “As fellow student leaders and good friends, all of my colleagues and I are deeply saddened by the events that have unfolded and anxiously wait for more information as it becomes available to us.”

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.