Florida high school valedictorian Daniela Pelaez has gone from fighting deportation to be meeting with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio after she and her sister were granted a two-year reprieve.
Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that Daniela, 18, her sister Dayana will not be deported.
Last week, a Miami judge ruled that the Colombian-born sisters must be deported. However, Wednesday, an ICE spokesman stated, “The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case by case basis, as necessary to focus resources on our stated priorities,” ultimately saying that though the girls are not in the U.S. legally, they are not he dangerous criminal aliens ICE seeks to remove.
A Florida high school student is facing many undocumented student’s worst nightmare, despite having never been in trouble, and a very impressive academic career.
Despite the looming threat of deportation, Daniela Pelaez of North Miami Senior High School is not giving up and told the Miami Herald she’s “just the voice for the thousands that can’t speak.”
With a 6.7 GPA, the 18-year-old valedictorian, along with her sister, is facing deportation back to Colombia.
When she was just 4-years-old, she explained on Univsion’s “Sabado Gigante” on Saturday, Daniela’s family came to the U.S. from Barranquilla, Colombia on tourist visas. Her mother returned to Colombia in 2006 to receive treatment for colon cancer and her father was able to obtain legal residency through Daniela’s brother, Johan, a U.S. citizen serving in the Army. He just returned from a tour Afghanistan last year.
Daniela has garnered support from classmates, neighbors, politicians, and many across the country. Notable supporters include Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Albert Carvalho, Rep. Lleana Ros-Lehtinen, and even Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
Her deportation date is set for March 28, but her lawyer Nera Shefer will likely file an appeal in the coming days.
Daniela has reportedly already applied to several top schools and hopes to continue her education and become a heart surgeon.
Friday, more than 2500 supporters took to the streets of North Miami to protest the deportation order against Daniela and her sister, many shouting, “Justice for Daniela.”