VA high school grad granted last-minute respite from deportation
Students like Mejia, 18, could be eligible for relief under the DREAM Act.
A Virginia teenager scheduled to be deported just days after her high school graduation was granted a last-minute reprieve on Monday afternoon, according to the Washington Post.
Heydi Mejia of Richmond, Va. and her mother, Dora Aldana were scheduled to leave for Guatemala this week. But the Department of Homeland Security postponed their deportation for one year.
The reprieve comes after Mejia and Aldana’s story were featured on the front page of the Post on Monday. Aldana brought her daughter into the U.S. undocumented in 1999 when she was just four-years-old. The two crossed the Rio Grande, with Mejia floating next to her mother on a wooden board sandwiched between two tires, according to the newspaper.
Mejia and Aldana were caught by Border Patrol, but did not show up for a court hearing. They ended up in Richmond, the capital of Virginia. Aldana ended up marrying a local man, but he was deported in 2009.
The reprieve from deportation will allow Mejia to enroll in college, which she had planned to do before her mother and she received a deportation order in December.
Mejia’s story is similar to that of Daniela Pelaez, a high school valedictorian from Miami who faced deportation earlier this year. After meeting with GOP members of Congress to help draft immigration legislation and staging a petition effort, she was also granted reprieve.
The DREAM Act, Democrat-backed legislation which has been stalled in Congress for years, is meant to address youth like Mejia by granting a pathway to citizenship for some students pursuing higher education or a military career. Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. David Rivera, have drafted alternatives that would grant legal status, but not a special pathway to citizenship, for such students.
Still, little progress is expected to be made on immigration legislation in an election year.
(Photo: Flickr, Antonio Villaraigosa)