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UC Berkeley fails to support undocumented student Luis Mora in time of need

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JANUARY 16, 2018

The UC Berkeley administration’s reaction to undocumented junior Luis Mora’s detainment by Border Patrol proves that the campus doesn’t give undocumented students the support they need.

Within days of Mora’s detainment on Dec. 30 in San Diego, campus immigrant rights organization Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education, or RISE at Berkeley, launched a massive social media campaign to call for Mora’s release. Catching the attention of several state officials, the campaign’s YouCaring page has been shared 2,000 times and has raised more than $13,787 as of press time.

And yet, in her statement released more than a week later, Chancellor Carol Christ appeared to take credit for the student organization’s work, claiming that the campus is working to connect Mora to legal advice and attorney services. In fact, RISE had already helped Mora connect with an attorney through its social media campaign, and in a tweet, the attorney said the campus isn’t paying them to work on Mora’s case.

RISE, in a strong rebuke of Christ’s statement, said that despite her claims, Christ had not reached out directly to student leaders about Mora’s case. Mora’s attorney, Prerna Lal, who also works for the campus-run Undocumented Student Program, does not even have an office on campus: Lal reserves office space on campus once a week to meet students in need.

RISE shouldn’t have to fill the holes left by the campus’s inconsistent support of undocumented students — UC Berkeley must ensure the Undocumented Student Program and RISE can hire more lawyers and have defined workspaces on campus.

The University of California has long advertised its history of supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, students. But what about the undocumented students who are not DACA recipients, such as Mora? The political science major and pre-law student deserves as much institutional support as any other student admitted to the university.

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore previously told The Daily Californian that the campus is working “behind the scenes” to help secure Mora’s release. But invisible efforts aren’t enough. Now is the time for public action, and the UC Berkeley administration — which has repeatedly expressed support for the undocumented community — should proudly lead the charge.

Mora’s detainment isn’t an isolated incident; under President Donald Trump’s administration, all undocumented students are vulnerable. Orr Yakobi, an undocumented UC San Diego student, was detained Jan. 7 by Border Patrol after taking a wrong turn, just like Mora. Thankfully, Yakobi was later released amid the public outcry that his social media campaign garnered from the community.

The Berkeley community must continue to raise money for RISE’s efforts and use the #FreeLuis hashtag to maintain this public outrage over Mora’s detainment. Mora’s name cannot be forgotten. Our community must make every effort to help bring Mora home.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

JANUARY 15, 2018