VIDEO: Detained Harvard Student Speaks Out

Detained Harvard Student Speaks Out
Esther I. Yi and Xi Yu

Eric Balderas '13 sits down with The Crimson for an exclusive interview to detail what went through his mind last Monday when he was detained after attempting to board a plane from San Antonio, Texas to Boston.

Balderas, an undocumented student, had presented his Harvard identification and a consular card from the Mexican government upon misplacing his Mexican passport and now faces the possibility of deportation to Mexico.

Nervous and stressed, Balderas said he thought constantly about the safety of his family throughout Monday's events and even considered writing a letter to his mother.

"I had been so strong before," Balderas recalled. "And now my spirits were just destroyed."

Balderas was released on Monday, pending an immigration hearing July 6. The rising sophomore, who eventually took a flight to Boston on Wednesday, chose not to return home and did not tell his mother about the incident.

"I don't want her to worry about it," Balderas said.

Since Monday, Balderas has slowly become more vocal about his status as an undocumented student and has raised awareness for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which would provide undocumented youth with a six-year-long path to citizenship under certain conditions.

Some opponents of immigration reform argue that to grant Balderas pardon would be to condone an illegal act, regardless of his academic standing. Yet others have come to the student's defense, emphasizing his strong identification as an American and his outstanding academic history.

Mark M. Medvesky, public affairs officer at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said on Saturday that he cannot disclose details about Balderas' particular case due to the Department of Homeland Security's privacy policy.

"When ICE encounters an individual suspected of being in the country illegally, we exercise our discretion on a case-by-case basis," Medvesky said. "In some instances, we issue a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge."

As he awaits the final verdict on July 6, Balderas assures others who find themselves in a similar situation that the battle is not over.

"Just hang in there," Balderas said. "Let others know of your problem and try and gain support for the DREAM Act, because that's ultimately what's going to save us all."

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

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