UC Berkeley student released from custody in South San Diego County

Posted at 4:48 PM, Jan 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-18 02:11:36-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The University of California Berkeley student detained by immigration officers at a border checkpoint in East San Diego County was released Wednesday.

Luis Mora was released unconditionally from the Otay Mesa Detention Facility, according to his attorney Prerna P. Lal.

Upon release, he cried and told 10News it was the first time he had seen the sun in 18 days.

"I’m grateful to be here and to be able to fight my case to remain in this country which I call home," Mora said. "Despite not having legal papers yet, I call home."

The 20-year-old student and his girlfriend were leaving a party January when they took a wrong turn and ended up at a checkpoint.

RELATED: ICE releases UCSD student detained at U.S.-Mexico border

Mora overstayed his visa while visiting the U.S. from Colombia as a child and became an unauthorized immigrant, officials said.

Mora got emotional when he started describing the support that flooded in for him after immigration arrested him. 

"To my girlfriend and her family,' he said. "I love you.”

After weeks of fear and uncertainty, today he was able to focus on love and gratitude. 

“I’m just glad he’s going to be back in school and ready to be doing what he should be doing," said Mora's attorney, Prerna Lal. "Which is getting an education.” 

Mora told 10News his struggles have inspired him to encourage others in the same situation to never give up. 

"Know that there is a way out," he said. "It’s a beautiful day. And it feels great.”

A social media campaign with the hashtag #FreeLuis raised awareness for Mora’s situation.