More than 2,600 students and teachers at North Miami Senior High held a protest today against an immigration judge’s recent ruling that their valedictorian must leave the United States, the Miami Herald reported.
Senior Daniela Pelaez, 18, has lived illegally in the US since her parents brought her from Colombia with them when she was 4, and they overstayed their tourist visas, NBC Miami reported. Pelaez, who’s earned nearly all As in the school’s international baccalaureate program, is waiting to hear whether she’s been accepted to Yale, Duke and other top colleges.
On Monday, an immigration judge ordered Pelaez and her sister Dayana to leave the US on March 28, Fox News reported.
"The law and the judge, they see her as a statistic," Pelaez’s friend Emily Sell told NBC Miami. "And we're trying to put a face on a cause."
Even Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho showed up at the protest to declare his support for Pelaez, the Miami Herald reported. "Over my dead body will this child be deported," he said. "I will put my job on the line. There are some things worth fighting for. I will take on anybody who will stand in her way."
Palaez told NBC Miami that she has no memory of Colombia. "I've been asked the question before: 'Do I feel American?' or 'Do I believe I am?' " she told NBC Miami. "And I don't think it's a question. I'm American. I know the national anthem. I know the laws. I know what it is to be an American."
Pelaez told NBC Miami that she is appealing the case and hopes to delay her deportation until she starts college.
US Immigration & Customs Enforcement released a statement today that indicated that the feds will not force her out of the country on March 28, Fox News reported. "ICE will not take any action against (Daniela and Dayana Pelaez) while they pursue additional legal options,” the statement read in part. “Upon conclusion of their appeal, ICE will review this matter to determine whether an exercise of discretion is warranted."
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