UC San Diego senior Orr Yakobi has been released from the Otay Mesa Detention Center where he had been held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since Jan. 9. A recipient of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, Yakobi was first detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protections on Jan. 7 after accidentally crossing the Mexico–United States border.
Yakobi and his roommate, Ryan Hakim, were returning from a shopping trip at the Las Americas outlet mall in San Ysidro when Hakim mistakenly entered Interstate-805 heading southbound instead of north. Already past the last freeway exit before the border, Hakim was forced to drive into Mexico to turn around. When Hakim and Yakobi attempted to re-enter the country, Yakobi was flagged by CBP, questioned, and then arrested as DACA recipients are prohibited from leaving the United States without specific permits.
Yakobi was allowed to leave the detention center with his lawyer, Jacob Sapochnick, earlier today and with his DACA status still intact.
“It’s unbelievable,” Sapochnick said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I think it was a combination of everything, the political pressure, the logical argument, just trying to get him to finish his school.”
After news of Yakobi’s detainment spread, many members of the UCSD community, including Associated Students, and local politicians such as Assembly member Todd Gloria and Rep. Scott Peters advocated for his support.
“He is a valued and active member of our UC San Diego community, and we would very much like to have him return to our campus so he can fulfill his ultimate goal of obtaining his degree,” Chancellor Pradeep Khosla wrote in a letter to ICE.
Yakobi, who is set to graduate at the end of the quarter, will lose his DACA status in April when it expires, unless he is able to renew it.
The Trump administration terminated the policy in September, but after a federal court judge granted a temporary injunction preventing the president from ending DACA on Wednesday, young immigrants will still be able to file for protection from deportation under the program as the issue makes its way through the court system.