A Miami high school valedictorian who gained national attention with her fight to avoid deportation back to Colombia has been granted a two-year reprieve by federal authorities who now say that their bigger goal is going after illegal immigrants who are criminals — and not dutiful students.
Daniela Pelaez, and her sister, Dayana, were ordered to leave the country just last week by a federal immigration judge. But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday issued a statement saying the agency would defer carrying out the court order for at least two years.
The decision, which elated many in South Florida, followed growing local protests aimed at keeping the two teens in the United States, not to mention a steady din of news coverage about the family’s plight. Several lawmakers also interceded on the girls’ behalf, including Republican congresswoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Thousands took to the streets just last week in North Miami to protest the court ruling. They held banners and chanted “Justice for Daniela.” The Miami Herald said it was the single largest immigration demonstration in the area since then-President George W. Bush proposed legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants back in 2004.