05 March 2012

Miami student fights US immigration authorities

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An 18 year old student from Miami's efforts to combat a deportation order continued over the weekend as she appeared on local television to thank her many supporters.

US immigration

18 year old Ms Pelaez is an exceptional student who has lived in the US since she was four years old but now faces deportation.

Daniela Pelaez, who arrived in the country from her native Colombia on a tourist US visa when she was just four years old, appeared on This Week in South Florida to voice her cause and thank the thousands of supporters who took to the streets on Friday to support their classmate.

"I'm just the voice for the thousands who can't speak," said Ms Pelaez, her class Valedictorian who has an extremely good academic record. Ms Pelaez explained that she was "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support which has ranged from fellow students to politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

The support for Ms Pelaez has been massive, with fellow students being joined in their protest by teachers and community members as well as her local Public Schools Superintendent to make it one of the largest deportation protests in almost a decade.

Ms Pelaez, who is originally from Barranquilla in northern Colombia, spoke out for the thousands of other illegal immigrants in the United States who face deportation as well as in support of the controversial DREAM Act which will allow illegal immigrants to earn the right to remain in the country by either serving in the military or attending college.

Members of Ms Pelaez's family are also in a similar position as her, her mother has been unable to return to the US after travelling to Colombia in 2006 for cancer treatment and her sister has also been issued with deportation orders. Her brother though is a US citizen serving in the military and her father secured residency as his guardian.

Ms Pelaez explained that her dream was to remain in the US, attend college and become a heart surgeon but her dream was put on hold when she was arrested and given deportation orders by US immigration authorities. She is scheduled to be deported but it is believed her attorney, Nera Shefer, will appeal the decision.

"We have a lot of hard work to do, but I'm sure we will get there," said Ms Shefer.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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