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Entries in Elizabeth Olivas (2)

Thursday
May312012

Star Student in Immigration Flap Will Be Home for Graduation

Frankfort High School(FRANKFORT, Ind.) -- High school senior Elizabeth Olivas is coming home. After getting caught up on an immigration technicality in her native Mexico, the Frankfort Indiana High School homecoming queen will get to walk with her classmates at graduation on Saturday.

The U.S. State Department confirmed to her immigration lawyer, Sarah L. Moshe, that Olivas was given a visa to come back to the United States, Moshe told ABC News.

“The waiver was approved, and we just finished issuing and printing her visa,” an email from the State Department said.  “We gave her the visa packet and I assume she will be leaving the Consulate momentarily (visa in hand!).  Congrats and best of luck to Elizabeth and her family!  She is very lucky to have such a great team working on her behalf.”

Olivas has lived in the U.S. since age 4, and her father is a naturalized U.S. citizen. But after turning 18, according to the law, she had 180 days to return to Mexico to apply for a long-term visa to the United States.  Without that visa she would become an illegal immigrant. So she and her father took the trip down to the Juarez consulate, only to realize they counted dates wrong because of the leap year. Olivas was late by one day, initially told she would not be issued her long-term visa and, without a  “humanitarian parole” visa waiver, she would not be able to enter the United States again for three years.

But even the waiver process can be complicated. Waivers can take anywhere from three to eight months to be issued. Olivas couldn’t wait that long. She’d already been in Mexico for six weeks, missing most of her high school senior milestones, including prom and an academic achievement ceremony. With a near 4.0 grade point average, the star athlete is set to graduate as one of the top students at the school.  She is also supposed to give the salutation speech at graduation, which seemed unlikely before her case received a global outcry.

Frankfort High School Principal Steve Edwards told the Indianapolis Star that students were sad at the thought of Olivas not being with them for graduation and that the situation was one of the hardest things he’s ever dealt with.

“This is a very skilled, talented, beautiful young lady,” he said.

But now Olivas and her classmates will be able to celebrate both their graduation and her homecoming.  She told Moshe via text message that she was excited and grateful.

“JUST GOT OUT VISA IN MY HANDS,” read the text. ” IM COMING HOME!  THANK YOU SO MUCH, IM SOO HAPPY!”

Moshe told ABC News Olivas and her family are grateful for all the attention and concern over the teen’s plight.

“We take this opportunity to thank everyone for the outpouring of support for Elizabeth and her family,” Moshe said. “She will certainly enjoy a well-deserved graduation celebration on Saturday!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May302012

American Student Stuck In Mexico Could Miss Graduation

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- High school senior Elizabeth Olivas thought she would be enjoying the last days at her Indiana high school with her classmates before graduating on Saturday.

Instead, the Frankfort High School homecoming queen is in her native Mexico, caught up in an immigration technicality that has her future in the United States straddled between U.S. government agencies, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Olivas has lived in the U.S. since age 4, and her father is a naturalized U.S. citizen. But after turning 18, according to the law, she had 180 days to return to Mexico to apply for a long-term visa to the United States. Without that visa she would become an illegal immigrant. So Olivas and her father took the trip down to the Juarez consulate, only to realize they were one day late.  Now she must wait three years before entering the country again, unless she receives a "humanitarian patrole" visa waiver.

According to the Star, Olivas’ tardiness in getting to Mexico was a combination of her wanting to miss as little school as possible and a date accounting error by her immigration lawyer.

Sarah Moshe, Olivas’ lawyer, told the paper that her firm did not take into account that this is a leap year. Many law firms use legal calendars as a way of tracking important dates that do not add the extra day in February.

“She feels awful, terrible, devastated,” Moshe said of the student. “The whole situation is crazy.”

Though visas are issued by the State Department, humanitarian parole waivers for those who have violated immigration law must be issued under the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen and Immigration Services.

On Wednesday, deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said that the State Department can’t comment on specific individual visa issues, but in a case in which humanitarian parole is granted the State Department would “process an application as quickly as possible.”

Time is not on Olivas’s side. Waivers can take anywhere from three to eight months to be issued. A spokesperson for the Department of Citizen and Immigration Services in Dallas told the Star that Olivas will have to wait her turn.

She’s already waited in Mexico for six weeks, missing most of her high school senior milestones, including prom and an academic achievement ceremony. With a near 4.0 grade point average, Olivas will graduate as one of the top students at the school.  But now it seems unlikely that she will attend that graduation or get the chance to give a salutation speech about the bright future ahead for herself and her American classmates.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio