United States: Case of Colombian Student Revives Immigration Debate

Daniela Peláez is a Colombian student based in Miami who made headlines recently as yet another case of students who have an extremely bright future but no legal status in the United States.  Currently 18 years old and the first in her class at North Miami High School, Peláez arrived in the United States at the age of four, a time in which her parents came to this country on tourist visas, for which Daniela would later received a deportation order.

Nevertheless, Peláez counted with the immediate support of the public, from the principal and students at her school to local congresspeople like Marco Rubio and Ileano Ros-Lehtinen.  She, so much as her sister, Dayana, received a pardon from the Department of National Security on March 6, reopening the debate regarding the migratory status of thousands of young people that arrived in the United States at an early age, where they grew up and now face difficulties upon entering institutions of higher education.

Peláez's case does not only hinge on the already questionable immigration system, but also offers a new opportunity to consider solutions that bills in Congress can provide, like the DREAM Act, which would have given conditional permanent residency to high school graduates born in the United States to undocumented parents who have shown “good moral character” and have lived here for five years before the bill's passage.  Additionally, a draft of the bill that Peláez herself helped craft, the STARS Act, which, unlike the DREAM Act, would grant a grace period of six months after finishing high school to then enter college.

The immigration debate is revived with Daniela Pelaez's case.  Photo from longislandwins (CC BY-2.0)

The immigration debate is revived with Daniela Pelaez's case. Photo from longislandwins (CC BY-2.0)

Blog El Tercer Riel [es] calls for revisiting the topic of immigration as a result of Peláez's case:

El caso de la joven Daniela Peláez debe servir para concientizarnos sobre la necesidad de traer un tono serio a la discusión del tema migratorio.  El primer paso necesario en esta discusión es separar la nobleza de la idea tras el DREAM Act de la ridiculez de las recientes propuestas legislativas que han mancillado ese nombre.

The case of Daniela Peláez should make us raise awareness about the necessity of bringing a serious tone to the discussion of the immigration issue.  The first step in this discussion is to separate the nobility of the idea behind the DREAM Act of the recent legislative proposals’ ridiculousness, which have sullied the name.

The blog Eucario y su comentario [es] notes that students like Peláez should be compensated for their intelligence and effort independent of their migratory status:

Un acto de justicia que una vez más demuestra la perentoria necesidad de que se legisle con prontitud para que en lo sucesivo no se frustren las ilusiones, el esfuerzo, la dedicación de estudiantes como Daniela cuyo propósito ha sido y será ser conseguir una educación adecuada mediante la cual pueda aportar su inteligencia y conocimientos al servicio del país en el que se ha educado.

An act of justice that yet again demonstrates the urgent need for prompt legislation so that from now on, the hope, efforts, and dedication of students like Daniela, whose goal has been and will be to get an adequate education through which her intelligence and knowledge can service the country in which she has been educated, is not thwarted.

The tweets do not solely reference Peláez but also the necessity to revisit the DREAM Act, as Arne Duncan (@arneduncan), U.S. Secretary of Education, mentions:

We've got to pass the DREAM Act. It's the right thing to do, & we can't afford to deny education to talented, hard-working students.

Veronique M (@VMblogger) considers that students like Peláez represent the future of the United States:

RT @VoxxiNews: DREAM Act is priority b/c kids like the Miami valedictorian facing deportation are our future http://j.mp/AbRbl1#latism

Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) promised to approve the DREAM Act after meeting Peláez:

I spoke with Daniela Pelaez, an inspiring #Miami#DREAMER, and I told her that I am fully committed to #DreamActhttp://yfrog.com/g0ltwxrj

Jose Dante Parra (@jdparraSenate) highlights what he considers Senator Marco Rubio's double standard [es]:

Rubio c reune con Daniela Pelaez. Dice q’ la apoya. Despues dice a WTVJ-Miami q c opone al #DREAMACT? Double personalidad? #latism

Rubio joins Daniela Pelaez.  He says he supports her.  After telling WTVJ-Miami that he is opposed to the #DREAMACT?  Dual personality?#latism

Finally, Carlos Mendoza III (@EducatorMusing)  expressed his happiness over the extension granted to Peláez:

Happy for you. Best wishes #edchat#in H.S. Valedictorian Daniela Pelaez Granted Temporary Two-Year Stay Of Deportation http://j.mp/w4huqU


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