September 19, 2018

State Officials Call for Release of Israeli Native Who Crossed Into Mexico

Orr Yakobi, a 22-year-old native of Israel and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) enrollee, is being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after accidentally crossing the border into Mexico on Jan. 7, Jacob Sapochnick, the detainee’s attorney, said.

Sapochnick, who spoke to the Journal in an interview on Jan. 10, said Yakobi, a senior at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), was driving south on Interstate 5 with his friend to the Las Americans outlet mall near the U.S.-Mexico border on Jan. 7. The two somehow drove past the outlet mall, which is located on the border and took the next exit, arriving in Mexico, he said,.

“Once you get there you cannot turn back unless you cross the [U.S.] border,” Sapochnick said.

When they turned around and drove back toward the U.S. border, border patrol stopped the vehicle, “canceled [Yakobi’s] legal status” and apprehended Yakobi, Sapochnick said.

He was was detained by border patrol at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, a land border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana. According to Sapochnick, who is also Israeli, ICE is currently holding Yakobi in Otay Mesa.

“We’re trying to see if we can get him out on parole, but it’s going to take a while,” Sapochnick said, adding, “If you make a mistake … you should not be paying for it the rest of your life. There should be some logic. I hope they will see releasing him. It is the right thing to do.”

On Jan. 10, the California Legislative Jewish Caucus issued a letter calling on ICE to release Yakobi. The letter’s authors include State Sens. Ben Allen and Bob Hertzberg and Assemblymembers Richard Bloom and Marc Levine. They describe the detainee as an “excellent student who is just a few classes away from graduating with a computer science degree from UCSD and has met all of the terms of the DACA program.”

“Because there are no extraordinary circumstances for his continued detention, we ask that Mr. Yakobi be released immediately or at a minimum be paroled from Immigration and Customs Enforcement while the case is reviewed,” the letter says.

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus recently came out in support of the 200,000 Californians currently participating in DACA, according to the organization’s website.

The incident occurred as debate continues over the future of enrollees in DACA, a program that enables people who illegally entered the country as minors to receive renewable periods of deferred action from deportation.

Yakobi is from Kfar Saba. He has been living in the United States since he was 5 years old, nbcsandiego.com reported.

“UC San Diego is working with the student’s family and their attorney to assist in securing his release,” a university statement says.