The chancellor for University of California, San Diego penned a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in support of an Israeli student who faces deportation after making a wrong turn at the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this week.
Orr Yakobi, 22, is an Israeli citizen who is in the U.S. under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. The immigration program allows those who entered the U.S. as minors to stay in the U.S. with some restrictions including traveling outside of the country.
Yakobi and his friend, Ryan Hakim, were shopping at an outlet mall in San Ysidro Sunday when the pair got on southbound Interstate 5 instead of northbound Interstate 805.
"Once we got onto the ramp, we couldn't turn around. We couldn't pull over," Ryan Hakim said. "We were forced into Mexico."
Yakobi was detained.
On Wednesday, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla sent a letter to the Director of ICE’s San Diego field office, Gregory Archambeault.
In the letter, Khosla said Yakobi is scheduled to graduate at the end of the Winter quarter this year and urged ICE to consider releasing the student under parole.
“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,” the letter read.
Hakim and the rest of Yakobi’s family maintain that the men had no intention of crossing into Mexico, thus violating the terms of DACA.
"We're freaking out about his documentation. How is he going to get back in? How are we going to get back in," Hakim said.
When the men attempted to return to the U.S, officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped the vehicle and checked Yakobi's documentation.
Yakobi was detained at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Now he's in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-- detained in Otay Mesa and facing deportation.
"It’s very political. Depending on what the mood of the government is right now, what ICE is willing to do,” Immigration Attorney Jacob Sapichnick said.
His attorney is negotiating his release and getting support from state and federal lawmakers, among others.
“It is unbelievable. In 24 hours we've got Todd Gloria, we've got Scott Peters, we got people from other states," Sapochnick said.
Yakobi, a math and computer science major, was well on his way down the road to success. He was just two classes from graduating and already working as a freelance programmer.
Yakobi was brought to the U.S. by his parents when he was 5 years old.
Yakobi is in good spirits and remains hopeful. Meanwhile, his classmates are garnishing support on campus from students, faculty and administration.
"I want to see Orr back at home. We all just want to give him a big hug," Hakin said. "We want to see him do what he wanted to do with his career. I want to see him achieve his dreams."
Yakobi 's DACA status expires in March. The student was detained because he didn't have a travel permit to leave the country.
His attorney is hoping to bond him out of detention so he might finish school while the case makes its way through the courts.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted a request by California and other plaintiffs to prevent Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while their lawsuits play out in court.
President Donald Trump says the U.S. court system is -- in his words -- "broken and unfair."