BERKELEY (CBS SF) — A University of California at Berkeley pre-law student arrested last month at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint near San Diego returned home to the Bay Area Sunday night.

Hugs and smiles greeted Luis Mora as he arrived at Oakland International Airport.

“I’m honored for all the people that supported me,” he said. “And all the people who chose not to support me because that represents how we get to unify the country from different perspectives. And that’s what makes this country great.”

Mora was released from federal custody last week after nearly 20 days in a prison facility. Custom agents had picked him up Dec. 30 at checkpoint roughly 25 miles north of the border in the Jamul area of unincorporated San Diego County.

His lawyer claims Mora had turned his car the wrong way while visiting the San Diego area over winter break with his girlfriend and ended up at a border checkpoint by mistake. Immigration officials claim he is in the U.S. illegally, that he has overstayed his visa.

Mora came to the U.S. at age 11 with his mother when she was seeking medical treatment for cancer. She left the country after he started college. He was born in Columbia, but his family comes from Ecuador.

He is not protected by the DACA program because you could only register with DACA if you came to the country before 2007. Mora came in 2009, so he missed the cutoff by two years.

Immigration Judge Ana Partida ordered Mora released on a $1,500 bond, but he still faces deportation.

Mora’s arrest has spurred a wave of activism in the Bay Area, catching the attention of elected leaders at the federal level. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein both issued statements on his behalf.

Sen. Kamala Harris even questioned Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over Mora’s continued detention Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.


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