BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- For the first time in weeks, UC Berkeley student Luis Mora hugged his girlfriend and his attorney outside of a San Diego detention facility. He'd been there since border patrol arrested him at a checkpoint in December. Wednesday a judge granted release on a $1,500 bond.
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"It was really shocking to me how much effort it took," said Prerna Lal, Immigration Attorney UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program. She flew back to the Bay Area Wednesday night following the hearing. Mora will return this weekend to resume classes next week.
Lal says people who've overstayed their visas like Mora are rarely detained, but the current administration has increased immigration enforcement.
"I think it's really important that Congress gets its act together as well as the White House and come to a solution on this situation," said Lal.
Mora's mother brought him to the US on a visa at age 11. He missed the cut-off for DACA protections by two years. The 20-year-old Columbian is studying Political Science and says he'll use this experience to help others in similar situations.
"I knew it was for a purpose, for a good reason and I made it worth it. This is going to help me for the future," said Mora.
Cal student groups to senators pushed for Mora's release.
"Literally anyone who's anyone wrote a letter for him and his release. So we are very grateful, fortunate," said Lal.
"I think we had the first undocumented student program here throughout all universities in the country. So I feel like we have a very important role in terms of stepping forward and making that happen," said UC Berkeley Undergrad Sennai Kaffl.
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Mora's next court hearing will be next year. He may graduate before it, but his attorney says they're also looking into relief options for him.
Cal's administration is taking some criticism for its role in the effort to free Mora. The Daily Californian's Editorial Board wrote, "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."
UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and University of California President Janet Napolitano issued this statement Wednesday: The University of California system and the UC Berkeley campus stand in support of the decision to release on bond one of our students who was recently detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
Our UC student is a valued and respected member of the Berkeley community with an excellent academic record and a bright future. In solidarity with his many friends and supporters, we urge that his case be expedited and that he be provided with a path to permanent residency and citizenship in the United States.
Our national interests are not served by forcibly returning him to his country of birth, where he has not resided since the age of 11. Our national interests are served by nurturing the talents of all members of our diverse community regardless of status.
To date Berkeley students - specifically, members of RISE - staff, and many others around the country have done remarkable work to secure the student's freedom, and we support their efforts. The university will continue to take every appropriate action to support the ongoing efforts to achieve a just and equitable outcome for him and other members of the UC community who may be impacted in the future.
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Cal student heading back to Berkeley after detainment, not end of battle
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