UCSD Student and DACA Recipient Orr Yakobi Released


Attorney Jacob Sapochnick (left) poses for a selfie with UCSD student and DACA recipient Orr Yakobi (right) after Yakobi's release from the Otay Mesa Detention Center on Jan. 12. Photo courtesy of Jacob Sapochnick, Orr Yakobi’s attorney.

Written by:

UCSD student and DACA recipient Orr Yakobi, who was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) last Sunday, was released this afternoon.

“He is out. And it’s amazing,” said Jacob Sapochnick, Yakobi’s attorney. “I went this morning to visit him. And while I was there, they told me he was going to be released.”

Sapochnick was surprised at the outcome, but is overjoyed with the result.

“The night before, I emailed the information back and forth to ICE with some our arguments as to why they feel he should be released,” he said. “I guess it was a combination of everything: the political pressure, the common sense that he shouldn’t be in jail.

Sapochnick says that after a few days of getting his bearings, Orr is interested in hosting a panel about his experience in order to advocate for other students covered by DACA. As for Orr’s DACA status, Sapochnick says that there should be no threat of termination.

“He doesn’t have a denial. There’s nothing in the paperwork. As far as we know, its a clean release,” he said.

Yakobi, who was brought here from Israel at the age of five, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Otay Mesa Detention Center since he was transferred there on Wednesday.

Instead of taking 805 North on the way back from a San Ysidro shopping center, Yakobi and his friend Ryan Hakim accidentally took the 805 South. By the time they realized where they were going, the road forced them across the border and when they tried to return, they were stopped. While Yacobi is protected from deportation under DACA, he did not have permission to cross the border and there was fear he would have his DACA status revoked.

An outpouring of student and community support has followed since the news first broke.

On Tuesday, California Assemblymember and former Interim-Mayor Todd Gloria was the first elected official to sign a letter urging for Yakobi’s release, addressed to ICE San Diego Field Office Director U.S. Gregory J. Archambault and Assistant Field Office Director Joseph Greene.

This was followed the same day by a statement from La Jolla City Councilwoman (D-1) Barbara Bry and a statement from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

By Wednesday, ASUCSD leaders placed a call for a petition to be signed by students that Yakobi’s lawyer, Jacob Sapochnick, could use during today’s meeting with the ICE San Diego Field Office Director. A separate petition gathered nearly 7000 signatures.

While Mexican-American immigrants represent a majority share of those on DACA, many are from countries like South Korea, Jamaica, India, and in this case, Israel.

The Otay Mesa Detention Center where Yacobi was held, owned by CoreCivic, is currently going through expansion efforts to increase the numbers of beds this year by around 30 percent.

Another UC student, Berkeley junior Luis Mora, has been detained at the same facility since last Wednesday. Mora has a bond hearing on Jan 17, the day after the winter semester begins at Berkeley.

“I think it is ridiculous that he has to miss the start of the semester, and he has been detained for two weeks for being a mere visa overstay,” said Mora’s volunteer lawyer Prerna Lal. “But I’m confident he will be released from ICE detention on Wednesday after we win and pay the bond set for him by the Immigration Judge.”

Gabriel Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him @gabemschneider