A student at the University of California at Berkeley is being held by immigration authorities in the San Diego area for violating the conditions of his visa, according to federal officials.
Luis Angel Mora Villota, a 20-year-old pre-law student who goes by Luis Mora, made a wrong turn and ended up at a border checkpoint, according to his lawyer.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol confirmed that Mora was apprehended Dec. 30 in the Jamul area of unincorporated San Diego County. She could not comment on the specific circumstances of his arrest, but did confirm the presence of a checkpoint in that area.
Prerna Lal, a staff attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center providing legal services for Mora through UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program, said on Twitter that her client is currently behind held at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility in San Diego County.
Otay Mesa is a private prison facility located less than two miles from the border, and according to the Los Angeles Times, it is the subject of a federal class-action lawsuit filed in December alleging that conditions inside violate human trafficking laws.
Lal has been active on social media, saying Wednesday evening that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is required to issue Mora a Notice to Appear – which is one of the first steps in placing a person into deportation proceedings – within 72 hours and has not yet done so.
“Luis Mora’s continued CBP Detention is officially in the unlawful zone. … Whatever happened to the rule of law? You can’t hold someone at CBP indefinitely.”
Activists have organized a social media campaign urging members of the public to call for Mora’s release under the hashtag #FreeLuis. One infographic in circulation says to call (619) 557-6117 and urge ICE officials to “exercise prosecutorial discretion.”