March 5th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

Miami valedictorian fighting deportation

By John Couwels, CNN

(CNN) – An immigration judge has ruled two teenage girls, including a Miami high school valedictorian, are to be deported for being in the country illegally.

Daniela Pelaez, 18, and her sister Dayana came to the United States with their parents from Colombia 14 years ago and never left – overstaying their tourist visas.

A Miami immigration judge ruled this week that the two girls must be deported to Colombia, leaving the teenagers in shock.

"Education not deportation!" chanted fellow students Friday during a protest outside the North Miami Senior High School, where Pelaez is valedictorian.

The high school senior has a 6.7 grade point average and is at top of her class out of 823 students, said a school administrator.

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Filed under: High school • In America • Policy • video
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Adam

    Wow this sucks... I just read she was given a "temporary" 2 year stay in the US? Come on people... This is a joke... I just legally got my green card in the mail on Friday... I spent 18 months doing things the right way... Took me nearly 2 years to get this thing and it is valid for 2 years... This girl overstays her legal limit and cries on national tv and she gets the same right to be in America as I do?

    Fail... Wake up America. Wake up lawmakers... FIX LEGAL IMMIGRATION FIRST!


    March 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • alane

      Like Adam posted - what about the similar issues facing 1000s of LEGAL immigrate children when they turn 21! Case in point is my son.

      My family and I have been LEGAL immigrants in the United States for over 16 years. During this time we have diligently maintained our legal immigrant status, following all the governing rules, regulations, and laws. When my son - who is a National Honor Society inductee, varsity letterman in academics and athletics, Y.E.S. volunteer, and Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout - turned 21 earlier this year he would have had 10 days to leave the United States, and in addition he lost the opportunity to get derivative permanent residency. (My daughter will face the same situation in a couple years.)

      To allow my son to complete his college degree in biology, we went through the expense and effort to change him to a student visa. Upon completion of his degree, and the corresponding expiration of his student visa, he will follow the law and reluctantly leave the United States - after living here since he was 5 years old.

      I wish there would be reporting on the notable issues and hardships faced and endured by LEGAL immigrants who are pursuing permanent residency to become citizens under the current system, as we are getting lost in the debates over (illegal) immigration. It would be relatively easy for congress and the administration to fix these issues and hardships for legal immigrants, but …

      March 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  2. Disseminating_Reality

    6.7GPA is not a mistake, but it is a load of nonsense. It clearly refers to weighted GPA which generally gives up to 5 points per Advanced Placement class. The GPA that most colleges go by is still the unweighted one and some don't even use the number from outside the core classes. 6.7 is clearly achieved by using a bizarre system that only serves to muddle the article and the issue by clouding the reality of her level of achievement. If the 6.7 could be regarded as inflated when scrutinized the reporter has clearly not done the research to actually inform us (a simple explanation of the way this score was achieved would have served well) if the work she has done could actually be said to merit such an absurd score they have done her a major disservice by casting major doubts on the validity of such a score.

    I did a quick search and found mention of South Florida athlete from her school with a 6.5 GPA he is going to the Naval academy. While she is clearly a good student I suggest a more accurate GPA for her falls less than 5 and more than 3.7 depending on weighted or unweighted. But obviously since the reported failed to his homework it isn't likely we will find out.

    March 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  3. BQRealityBites

    Someone – no mistake – in Miami you get extra credits if you can spell your name right!

    March 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  4. ronk1957

    "Education not deportation!" chanted fellow students Friday during a protest . I love it!! When these kids apply for college they will hear "I am sorry but Daniela Pelaez has taken your spot". Or applying for a job "I am sorry but Daniela Pelaez just got hired for this job". Like in California last year Headline "Thousands of college students protest for financial aid for illegal aliens" Two weeks later Headline "Thousands of college students protest against tuition increases". Welcome to the grown up world.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  5. Someone

    Wait, a 6.7GPA? There's a mistake there, right?

    March 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm |