2 UA students cited after on-campus encounter with Border Patrol agents

April 4, 2019 GMT

Two University of Arizona students were cited Monday for their role in an on-campus encounter with Border Patrol agents.

The UA Police Department issued citations to Denisse Moreno Melchor, 20, and Mariel Alexandra Bustamante, 22, for interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution. Moreno Melchor also was cited for threats and intimidation, according to information provided by UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson. The charges are class one misdemeanors.

The two students were cited and released. They are scheduled to appear in Pima County Justice Court on April 22, Sigurdson said.

The citations were issued in connection with a March 19 incident at the Modern Languages Building where Border Patrol agents were presenting at a student club event, Sigurdson said.

A video of the incident posted online showed a student interrupting the agents’ presentation and calling the Border Patrol an “extension of the KKK.” At least one student chanted “murder patrol” while she followed the agents as they left the classroom, walked out of the building and drove away.

The incident sparked an online backlash that connected the student’s comments to a wide-ranging debate over free speech on college campuses. The head of the local chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, Art Del Cueto, called on the university to investigate whether the students violated the university’s code of conduct or state law regarding disorderly conduct.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona issued a letter saying it recognized the agents’ presence at the job fair was “solely to recruit students to join their work force,” but “the presence of uniformed USBP agents on our campus, especially without warning was, is, and will always be immensely harmful to our DACA and undocumented community.”

DACA refers to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that provides legal protection for people who as children were brought into the United States illegally by their parents and meet certain requirements, such as a clean criminal record.

An online letter dated April 1 and signed by “DACA recipients at the University of Arizona” said, “Students at the UA decided to bravely stand up and be vocal about the threat Customs and Border Patrol’s presence creates for our community. Their action is to be applauded and admired because they put their community before themselves and acted to protect us.”

The letter stated “the students were bombarded with threats to their physical and emotional well being” after the video of the incident was released.

The UA Police Department continues to investigate the incident, Sigurdson said.

In a March 29 letter to the campus community, UA President Robert C. Robbins said the Office of the Dean of Students is “reviewing potential violations of the student code of conduct.”

“There also will be a probe into actions involving UA employees,” Robbins wrote.

The two students could not be reached by the Arizona Daily Star for comment.