Our VoiceImmigration

Community Stops Deportation in Miami


Glenn Hutchinson • Mar 19, 2012

Miami High School valedictorian, Daniela Peláez,  and her sister faced deportation to Colombia, but after the community rallied, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has granted the two sisters deferred action for two years.

Peláez came with her family to the United States when she was four years old.  Her family overstayed their tourist visa, and her application for residency was rejected.

A model student, Peláez is now her high school’s valedictorian.  With her perfect grades, she wants to attend an ivy-league school like Yale and someday be a surgeon.

Once news of her deportation order became known, 2500 students and members of the community protested, including Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.  Her story became a rallying point for the Dream Act, proposed legislation that would give students like Daniela Peláez a chance to become a citizen.

We should congratulate North Miami Senior High School for supporting Daniela and halting this deportation.  Also, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, wrote a letter to ICE and asked them to grant “deferred action.”

However, this event highlights the contradictions in our immigration system and with our politicians.

For example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is considered to be a top contender for the VP slot on the GOP ticket, met with Daniela Peláez and expressed concern about her situation.  However, he does not support the Dream Act legislation that he argues would “reward or encourage illegal immigration by granting amnesty . . . ”  However, he wants to “accommodate talented young people like Daniela . . .”

How can politicians like Rubio express sympathy for a student like Daniela Peláez, but not do anything about all the other dreamers that continue to risk being deported?

Do we only help valedictorians or those students with stories in the newspaper or TV? Do our politicans only react when there is a TV camera available for a photo opportunity?

Approximately 11.2 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States.  An estimated 2.1 million are children and young adults.

It’s time for our politicans to understand that there are more young people who need a chance to become citizens–and this includes the Obama administration who continues to deport dreamers.

Let us be inspired by Daniela Peláez and the pro-immigrant support in Miami.  However, let us not stop there. Let us support politicians who will work for immigration reform–when the TV cameras aren’t on.

Imagine 2050 Newsletter