MIAMI (CBS4) – A judge has ordered a top student at North Miami Senior High School to leave the country later this month.
The student has lived here since she was four. Now her classmates say they don’t plan on letting her leave without a fight.
Daniela Pelaez, 18, has spent most of her life in the U.S. In fact, she says she can’t remember her native country, Colombia.
“I’ve done everything that an American child has done. I know the National Anthem, I know more about the United States than I do about Colombia. This is my home,” said Daniela.
She’s done so well at North Miami Senior High that she’s now the valedictorian.
“Yeah. I have a 6.7 GPA,” said Daniela.
Even so, Daniela may have no other choice but to leave the U.S. at the end of the month. She was born in Colombia and came here with her parents when she was four.
A few years ago, her mom returned to Colombia for medical reasons while Daniela was in the process of legalizing her status.
A legal back and forth left her facing the possibility of having to return to Colombia, something her supporters at school are fighting.
“Something has to be done. It’s just not right. It’s not fair,” said Martha Porro, a North Miami Sr. High employee.
Daniela will spend Friday morning protesting, asking congressional leaders for any help. She hopes they have a solution to keep her here. Her best friend Emily hopes it works.
“She’s worked even harder than I have and she’s being denied something so simple that I and a lot of other Americans take for granted,” said Emily.
“I deserve to be here, I’m a good student, I give back to my community, and I’m an American,” said Daniela.
Daniela can appeal the federal order to leave the country.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency released this statement: “ICE will not take any action … while [she] pursues additional legal options. Upon conclusion of [the] appeal, ICE will review this matter to determine whether an exercise of discretion is warranted.”
The protest is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. in front of North Miami Senior High.