After weeks in custody, Yoon Choi, the student arrested during an immigration raid on May 23, is back at UCSB and currently awaiting a hearing that may decide her future in the United States.
Choi, a third-year sociology and philosophy major, returned to campus earlier this month after posting a bond that released her from custody. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Virginia Kice, Choi’s hearing before an immigration judge is scheduled for July.
On May 23, during a 5 a.m. raid at Choi’s apartment in the university-owned Santa Ynez complex, I.C.E. agents – who had originally come to investigate the legal status of her roommate, an Iranian graduate student – arrested Choi when she could not produce proof of her own legal status. Campus officials had incorrectly inputted Choi’s roommate’s information in the electronic database of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which prompted I.C.E.’s initial investigation.
Since her arrest, agents have held Choi in custody at detention centers in Ventura County and San Pedro.
Kice said Choi was allegedly in the United States illegally on a visitor’s that had expired six years ago. Under such circumstances, Choi faces possible deportation.
“She was ordered released on bond by a judge,” Kice said. “This was a decision made by the immigration courts. It’s pending before an immigration judge who will make a decision about her deportability.”
In an e-mail, Choi said that in spite of the setbacks she has faced, she remains optimistic about her situation.
“I got some of the matters resolved,” Choi said. “I do have things planned out for myself, so things aren’t too bad for me.”
Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Paul Desruisseaux said the university is glad to see that Choi is no longer in I.C.E.’s custody.
“She was released from detention and did return to the campus to pursue her studies, which was what the university hoped for all along,” Desruisseaux said.
According to Desruisseaux, campus officials are currently in a dialogue with the State Department regarding future procedures.
“There has been and there continue to be conversations between university officials and government officials,” Desruisseaux said.
However, he said he could not comment on the content of such discussions.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Henry T. Yang sent an e-mail to the campus community on June 15 regarding Choi’s situation as well future plans for the university in similar cases.
“My campus colleagues and I have been working to clarify the facts in this instance and to develop appropriate procedures and protocols to be followed in the future,” Yang stated in the e-mail.
Chancellor Yang stated that he has had contact with various organizations and officials to discuss the issue, including campus police, legal counsel and government representatives.
In addition, he said he recently spoke on the subject at a meeting with fellow University of California chancellors and UC President Robert C. Dynes in order to approach the situation across the UC system.
“Every effort will be made to safeguard the rights of members of our campus community and to foster an environment consistent with the law and our mission as an educational institution,” Yang stated.