Students at North Miami High School are protesting in an effort to keep their valedictorian from being deported back to Colombia.
Image source: ABC News BY LUCAS GEISLER ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS Most high school valedictorians have to fill out college applications, scholarships, and resumes. For one valedictorian in Miami, that list includes deportation papers. 18-year-old Daniela Pelaez is appealing an immigration court’s decision to send her and her sister back to their native Colombia. Most of her high school’s student body have thrown their support behind Daniela. 2,500 students walked out of class Friday morning and took to the streets to protest the judge’s decision. Daniela moved with her parents to the U.S. illegally when she was four. According to MSNBC , she has earned nearly all A’s in her high school classes and has applied to attend several Ivy League schools. Her illegal status may halt her collegiate dreams, but Daniela feels she’s as American as they come. “I don’t know Colombia, I haven’t visited. I’m an American. I know the national anthem, I know the laws, I know…I know what it is to be an American.” And the support for Daniela extends beyond the protest. SignOn.org has a petition to stop her and her family from being deported. By Friday the petition already had over 6,000 signatures. The superintendent of Miami-Dade County Schools Alberto Carvalho, an immigrant from Portugal, also stands in Daniela’s corner, telling The Miami Herald … “I labored, I cleaned tables, I was a waiter, I did roofing, I did construction work and today I’m superintendent of schools. That is the power of education, a power and a right that shall not be denied to Daniela." The Immigration and Customs Enforcement are taking a hands-off approach to the matter for now. A statement from the agency reads... "ICE will not take any action against (Daniela and Dayana Pelaez) while they pursue additional legal options. Upon conclusion of their appeal, ICE will review this matter to determine whether an exercise of discretion is warranted."