In a few weeks, Daniela Pelaez, 18, will join Congressman
David Rivera in Washington, D.C., to lobby for a bill she helped write. The
STARS (Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status) Act will allow undocumented
immigrants who arrived in the United States before they turned 16 the chance to
become U.S. residents if they earn a four-year college degree.
Daniela’s story became a national rallying point for tweens
and teens who accompanied their family to America. You see, Daniela is the
poster girl for a high school success story. She is the valedictorian of her
Miami high school’s class. She’s been accepted to Dartmouth College on a full
scholarship, and dreams of being a heart surgeon. And just a few months ago,
she sat in a courtroom, clutching her sister’s hand, as a judge told her that
her application for citizenship had been denied. The two girls had one month to
leave the country.
But, Daniela says, leaving the U.S. would be leaving the
only home they’ve ever known. Her
parents moved her family to Miami from Colombia when she was four in hopes that
they would find a better, safer life there. Daniela considers herself a
Luckily, she’s not standing alone. After the hearing, nearly
3,000 students and teachers held a rally and her friends started an online
petition to stop her deportation.
It didn’t take long for local media outlets to pick up the
story, and this spring, she told her story to GL’s Sandy Fertman Ryan. You can
read it in full in our June/July 2012
issue, on stands now. We’ll be keeping tabs on her story on girlslife.com.
Photos from the Miami Herald
BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 5/27/2012 12:00:00 AM
POSTED IN In the News, Goal Getter, Get Inspired, June/July 2012, Daniela Pelaez