Valedictorian Facing Deportation Gets Two-Year Waiver

She and her family plan to fly to Washington Wednesday to meet with Sen. Marco Rubio

By Karen Franklin
|  Tuesday, Mar 6, 2012  |  Updated 11:13 PM EDT
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Over 2,000 classmates of a North Miami High School valedictorian facing deportation held a protest Friday morning to support her staying in the country. A judge on Monday ordered the deportation of 18-year-old Daniela Pelaez, who was brought illegally to the United States by her parents when she was 4 years old.

Over 2,000 classmates of a North Miami High School valedictorian facing deportation held a protest Friday morning to support her staying in the country. A judge on Monday ordered the deportation of 18-year-old Daniela Pelaez, who was brought illegally to the United States by her parents when she was 4 years old.

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Valedictorian Faced Deportation

Thousands of students marched in support of a North Miami teen, Daniela Pelaez, who was ordered to be deported. She was brought to the U.S. illegally by her parents years ago. Pelaez met with schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who vowed to help her.
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The lawyer for the North Miami Senior High School valedictorian facing deportation confirmed Tuesday that she is getting a two-year waiver to stay in the United States.

As a result of her stay extension, Daniela Pelaez and her family plan to fly to Washington Wednesday to meet with Senator Marco Rubio.

Pelaez said she is "truly grateful for all the help."

Before her reprieve, Pelaez told NBC 6 in an exclusive interview Tuesday night, "I just thought my dreams were shattered," as she contemplated returning to Colombia and its different education system.

Pelaez has offers from several Ivy League schools, but her ability to go to college was substantially threatened last week by her immigration status.

Pelaez’s request for a green card was denied by a judge, sparking a national debate on the Dream Act. Her application for residency was denied in 2010.

Pelaez left Colombia with her parents in 1998. Her family overstayed a tourist visa when she was 4 years old. She told NBC 6 that she has no memory of Colombia and loves her friends and this country.

"I've been asked the question before: 'Do I feel American?' or 'Do I believe I am?'" she said. "And I don't think it's a question. I'm American. I know the national anthem. I know the laws. I know what it is to be an American."

She said Tuesday that she plans on thanking Rubio for supporting her, "and hopefully (he and his staff) can find any solutions with my lawyer."

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