Photo Credit: Courtesy
Orr Yakobi

On the day before his almost-graduation from UC San Diego (he has two classes left), the son of Israeli immigrants to the US was arrested by border police after his roommate had driven into Mexico by mistake and was stopped trying to get back, The San Diego Union Tribune reported last week.

Orr Yakobi, 22, was five when his parents brought him to the US from Israel. He grew up in the Los Angeles area, and, unbeknownst to him, did so in violation of immigration laws once his visa had expired. Eventually, Orr received protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy that allowed some individuals who had entered the US as minors, and remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit.


On Friday, Orr was released after spending five nights in Otay Mesa Detention Center, although he is by no means a free man – his fate now depends on President Donald Trump’s decision on amnesty for the DACA population, a.k.a. the Dreamers. As things stand now, the policy, established by the Obama administration in June 2012, was rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017. The approved and pending DACA applicants are estimated at 800,000 young men and women who, like Orr, have all grown up as Americans and know little about their country of origin.

Jacob Sapochnick, Yakobi’s attorney, spent last week trying to get his client released, until he was able to walk away with him on Friday morning. “It’s unbelievable,” he told the San Diego Union Tribune. He explained his eventual success in getting Orr out for now, although he will remain in the crosshairs of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): “I think it was a combination of everything, the political pressure, the logical argument, just trying to get him to finish his school.”

Orr’s roommate, Ryan Hakim, the guy who turned onto Interstate 805 going south by mistake and landed his buddy in jail, started a petition that today is 25 signatures shy of 8,000: #FreeOrr: Release Orr from his Unjust Detainment. The Israeli DACA child also received vocal support from UC San Diego chancellor Pradeep Khosla as well as from members of Congress and local politicians.

Despite the fact that DACA is on ice for now, a spokesperson for ICE confirmed to the San Diego Union Tribune that Orr’s DACA permit is valid – although it is due to expire in April. On January 9, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California temporarily blocked the rescission of the DACA program, ordering the government to renew DACA until further order of the court. And on January 13, the US government stated that it would immediately resume approving DACA renewal applications.

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