Valedictorian student facing deportation
NORTH MIAMI, Fla. (WSVN) -- A decorated student with big dreams could see her future ruined by an immigration nightmare.
"We have until March 28th to appeal our case or my sister and I will be deported back to Colombia," said Daniela Pelaez.
She's hoping to go to an ivy league school in the fall, but immigration officials may force this teen to leave the country in just a matter of weeks. Her classmates at North Miami Senior High School are rallying in support and plan to walk out of class at 9 a.m. Friday morning to protest the possible deportation of someone, they say, deserves to stay in this country. Even the principal plans to be at that rally. "I want to be a heart surgeon," Daniela said.
And with all her awards, medals and accolades, including an entry in the illustrious Harvard book, Daniela is well on her way. "I love school," she said. "I love education. I'm the Valedictorian of my high school."
Daniela is a senior at North Miami Senior High School where she is in the international baccalaureate program and has a 6.7 grade point average. "I applied to Yale, I applied to Dartmouth, Duke University, Trinity and Westley," she said.
But just days before she will find out if she's been accepted to any of those colleges, she may be forced to leave the country.
On March 28, Daniela and her sister are scheduled be deported back to Colombia. "I've been here since I was 4, I'm American," said Daniela. "I don't know any other life other then being here."
Daniela and her siblings came to America with her parents back in 1991. Her parents divorced, and in 2006, when her mother had to go back to Colombia for medical reasons, she was denied access back into the country.
Daniela now lives with her father, who is a resident, but on Monday, a judge decided she and her sister could no longer live in this country. "So, like my life is over, you know, basically," Daniela said.
Larry Jurrist, a school administrator, would like to see her continue her education in the United States. "She has a brother whose been serving for two years in Afghanistan and Iraq, so here's her brother out defending the country, and a judge telling her, 'Oh, but you don't deserve to be here. It doesn't make any sense."
More than 3,000 people have signed an on-line petition to stop Daniela from being deported. "We spread the message through everywhere," said Diego Hitch, a friend, "through Facebook, through parents, emails, faculty, everybody. Everybody's been supporting her."
Daniela's attorney is appealing the court's decision. "Seeing my friends, my community, administration, an attorneys helping me, my congress person, it's given me hope that maybe there are people who care for me and may be able to help me," she said.
Help that will hopefully let her have the life she's always wanted and worked so hard to get.
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