MIAMI (CBS4) – Just days after her classmates rallied to keep Daniela Pelaez in the United States, she learned she will get to stay at least another two years.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has granted a two year deferment to the North Miami Senior High valedictorian who was ordered to leave the country this month. Palaez, 18, learned of the decision Tuesday. Her sister Dayana is also allowed to stay.
“I’m obviously happy that there’s sort of a resolution,” said Daniela. “The way my lawyer put it , it’s a bandaid that’s only covering a bigger wound and it hasn’t resolved the issue.”
She and Dayana want to live in the U.S. permanently. Still, they say they’re grateful for this action and all the support they’ve received.
“It all started with a couple of classmates who wanted to make a difference in the world and now because of them I am trying to make a difference with my sister and my lawyer,” said Daniella.
ICE issued this statement: “ICE has exercised prosecutorial discretion in Daniela and Dayana Pelaez’s case and will defer action for two years. The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case by case basis, as necessary to focus resources on our stated priorities. ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States and returned.”
Palaez has lived here since she was four. Daniela, 18, has spent most of her life in the U.S. She said she can’t remember her native country, Colombia.
A few years ago, her mom returned to Colombia for medical reasons while Daniela was in the process of legalizing her status.
Congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera, along with Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson have thrown their support behind Pelaez. Pelaez plans to travel with her attorney to Washington D.C. Wednesday to meet with Rubio.
“We’ll hopefully ask if there’s any reform for immigration,” said Daniella.
Her sister added, “We want help not only for us, also for all these people, all these kids out there, they’re looking for a solution and actually they’re (having) the same problem as we are.”