Harvard Sophomore Faces Deportation to Mexico

UPDATED 11:00 p.m.

Eric Balderas '13, a rising sophomore in Eliot House, was detained by immigration authorities on Monday and is facing deportation to Mexico, according to the Associated Press.

Activists and friends of the undocumented student said that Balderas was allegedly detained when he tried to use his Harvard identification to board a plane from his hometown of San Antonio, Texas to Boston, the AP reported.

Balderas was released on Monday and is now awaiting an immigration hearing on July 6, according to his friend Mario Rodas, who created a Facebook page in light of Monday's events.

"Eric is a model stellar student and citizen at Harvard University," the page, titled Keep Eric Home, stated. "His deportation will deprive all of us of a potential citizen whose courage, commitment, and sincere desire to help others through science can only make our country a better place."

Balderas, who came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 4, is planning to study neurobiology at Harvard, according to the Facebook page.

"Eric Balderas has already demonstrated the discipline and work ethic required for rigorous university work, and has, like so many of our undergraduates, expressed an interest in making a difference in the world," Christine M. Heenan, vice president for public affairs and communications, wrote in an e-mailed statement to The Crimson.

"These dedicated young people are vital to our nation’s future, and President Faust’s support of the DREAM Act reflects Harvard’s commitment to access and opportunity for students like Eric," Heenan added.

In May of 2009, University President Drew G. Faust wrote a letter to Mass. Representative Michael E. Capuano, declaring her strong support for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act is a piece of legislation that would provide undocumented youth who qualify a six-year-long conditional path to citizenship after they have completed two years of higher education toward a degree or completed two years of military service.

"At Harvard, we have dedicated substantial attention and resources to improve access to higher education," Faust wrote in the letter. "The DREAM Act would throw a lifeline to these students who are already working hard in our middle and high schools and living in our communities."

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Brandon Alvarez-Montgomery did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at xyu@college.harvard.edu.

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