Posted On: March 9, 2012 by Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon

Florida Valedictorian Delays Deportation

A Florida high school student who has excelled in school, becoming the class valedictorian, was able to delay her removal from the country for two years. Unfortunately, she is no closer to gaining lawful status.
Daniela Pelaez committed the unthinkable crime when she was brought here by her parents as a 4 year old child. Her parents entered the country without inspection, and from that moment on, 4 year old Daniela was dubbed an "illegal alien." Despite her lack of status, she was able to obtain an education and she excelled. Now, an 18 year old senior, she dreams of a life both beneficial to her and to all American citizens. But for her unlawful status, which was obtained when she was barely out of diapers, Daniela would be eligible to obtain an Ivy league education and become a contributing member of our community, like so many immigrants of the past.

Unfortunately for Daniela, the current immigration laws are unforgiving, even to an 18 year old girl who has known nothing but this country for the past 14 years and who was raised, educated, and integrated as an American. Oh, and as a little side note, Daniela's brother is currently putting his life on the line in the U.S. Armed Forces defending the very laws that are designed to expel Daniela from the only country she has ever known back to a foreign to her.

The Dream Act was designed to fix this injustice. To forgive a child the sins of the parent. The Dream Act is proposed legislation aimed at children who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were children, who have blossomed as American flowers during their childhood into adulthood, and who will become contributing members of our community by going to college or joining our military. The Dream Act would give these children the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents and to remain in the country they have always called home. Unfortunately, the legislature has not yet passed The Dream Act, leaving talented students like Daniela a victim to the system.

As a reward for her educational achievements, Daniela was placed in removal proceedings. An immigration judge ordered Daniela deported under current immigration laws. Thanks to thousands of supporters, ICE has decided to defer her removal for two years. This is a band aid on a gunshot wound as Daniela is not granted any lawful status during that two year period and she will face legal obstacles at every turn. While the government should be making it easier for people like Daniela to integrate into our society, the current state of the law will test her resilience in ways that will all but prevent her from reaching her dreams, which are to become a surgeon.
Read more about Daniela here.