MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The North Miami Senior High valedictorian, who won a reprieve after she and her sister were asked to leave the county, will be honored Wednesday by the Miami-Dade School Board.
The government granted 18-year old Daniela Pelaez and her sister Dayana a two year stay after the community and several legislators rallied around and her case gained national attention.
Daniela has been in the U.S. since she was 4. Her brother serves in the U.S. Army and has become a U.S. Citizen. Her mother is in Colombia where she has been stuck since 2006 after she returned there for medical reasons and her father is a legal resident.
After winning the deferment, Pelaez started the We Are Here Foundation to support the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status (STARS) Act. It’s a modified version of the controversial DREAM Act, the long-stalled legislation that would allow undocumented students to remain in the country.
Pelaez’s struggle with her own immigration status sparked a trip to Washington, D.C., with Congressman David Rivera, R-Miami, to draft STARS.
The STARS Act would allow high school graduates accepted into college the chance to stay in the U.S. for up 10 years and beyond. The first five would be to go to college. Upon graduating they get another five years. After the 10 years they are eligible to apply for full citizenship.