Entries in Immigration Reform (3)


Miami Valedictorian Could Be Deported

ABC News(MIAMI) -- North Miami High School senior Daniela Palaez has a 6.7 GPA, the valedictory nod from her classmates, a brother in the U.S. Army and deportation papers to Colombia.

In a hearing on Monday, a federal immigration judge ordered the 18-year-old Palaez, in the U.S. since she was 4-years-old, to voluntarily leave the country for her native Colombia by the end of the month after her request for a green card was denied.

"Everything I've worked for, it's, like going down the drain in a matter of days," says the aspiring surgeon, who has already applied to a number of Ivy League colleges. "I consider myself an American. [Deportation] would mean I'd leave a country and go back to a country that I don't remember, a country [where] I don't feel at home, and I don't even graduate high school."

Flanked by American flags and backed by chants of "justice for Daniela" from the thousands gathered Friday outside her school, Miami Dade Superintendent Alberto Caravalho upped the ante, saying "over my dead body will this student be deported," to roaring approval by the students.

After the judges' order on Monday, Emily Sell, a longtime friend, began a petition in support of Palaez on Facebook. It already has 5,000 signatures and is picking up momentum, with new signatures coming in at the rate of about 200 an hour.

Palaez was 4-years-old when she arrived in the U.S. with her family from Columbia on a tourist visa. Her residency application was denied in 2010. Her mother traveled to Columbia five years ago to get treatment for colon cancer and now can't return to the U.S. Palaez's brother is in the U.S Army and just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. Her father received permanent residency through Palaez's brother, but she is stuck.

Her departure is now imminent and her attorney is planning to file an appeal that would prevent her removal from the U.S. Right now, Palaez is trying to get a pre-approved student visa, but congressional support is needed to expedite such a request. She has gained the support of three Florida members of Congress, at least two of who plan to write to the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement on her behalf.

Palaez's attorney, Jack Wallace, says it may be years before she is actually deported.

This latest case has renewed calls for comprehensive immigration reform. The proposed Dream Act, a legislative bill that would allow undocumented children to receive permanent residency either by enrolling in college or the military, has stalled despite strong support from President Obama.

There are nearly 200,000 students in Florida alone who would benefit from the Dream Act, which some criticize as promoting illegal immigration.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sec. Napolitano Blames Congress for Border Security, Immigration Reform Issues

United States Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) -- At a speech at American University in Washington on Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano forcefully defended the administration’s immigration policy.

She both aimed to set the record straight on the issue, and put the burden on Congress to act now on immigration reform.

"We know the immigration system needs to be updated, and we committed then, and continue today, to seek reforms that make sense and are meaningful." Napolitano said, "But Congress hasn’t acted and states continue to pass a patchwork of their own laws in an attempt to fill the void.  It is this Administration’s position that Congress needs to take up immigration reform once and for all.  We have put forward our ideas and are ready to act quickly and collaboratively to support passage of reforms that make sense."

Napolitano claimed that previous efforts at immigration enforcement policies such as work site enforcement raids, neighborhood sweeps, and going after college students made “no sense.”

"Using the claim that the border is not secure as a reason to block immigration reform is not reasonable.  We are continuing to answer the call, and for the last two and a half years, have seen dramatic declines in illegal immigration and dramatic increases in seizures."

She also maintained that the ICE is more focused now on targeting criminal aliens who actually pose a threat to public safety and that “removing people unlawfully in the country who have been booked into jail” will continue to be a “top priority.”

Napolitano voiced support for the DHS-ICE program, Secure Communities, which acts to cross check offenders in jail with FBI and ICE databases that are looking for criminal offenders.

When asked about laws that states have passed to deal with specific immigration laws, Napolitano responded “If states are acting individually, that’s because Congress hasn’t acted.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lou Dobbs Fights Report That He Hired Illegal Immigrants

Photo Courtesy - Evan Agostini/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lou Dobbs gained notoriety for his harsh criticism of immigrants and the people who hire them.  Now in the wake of a report from The Nation that says that Dobbs has relied on undocumented workers for years, he's fighting to save his reputation.

Today on his nationally syndicated radio show, he called The Nation's investigation, titled "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite," "an attack piece" filled with "outrageous claims." He went head to head with reporter Isabel Macdonald about her assertion that he hired illegal immigrants to maintain his family's homes and horses.

Their conversation quickly turned into a confrontation:

Dobbs: "Did you say that I hired or my firm hired illegal immigrants?"

Macdonald: "I am saying that for years, undocumented immigrants looked after your show jumping horses, and for years, they looked after the grounds at your West Palm Beach estate in Florida. This article is fact-checked 100 percent, it is legally vetted."

Dobbs hammered Macdonald with questions but seemed loathe to offer any explanations himself. He suggested that if the workers he hired were illegal immigrants, he didn't know that.

"I had been told that they were absolutely legal," he said. "And you were told the same thing … and you didn't mention that in your piece."

The back-and-forth ended abruptly. As Dobbs tried to dismiss Macdonald from the program, she said, "Your listeners deserve better. I'm saying your listeners deserve to know the truth."

His response: "Are you saying they deserve better than going to Because that's the last thing I think they should do. ... Let's try focusing on truth and reality and straightforwardness, OK?"

For her Nation piece, Macdonald interviewed at least five undocumented immigrants who were hired by Dobbs. Some were brought on to help take care of the horse Dobbs' 22-year-old daughter Hillary used in her professional career as a show jumper.

One man named Rodrigo Ortega told Macdonald about meeting Dobbs, who introduced himself in Spanish as "Luis." Ortega said that Dobbs "knew very well that the majority of us didn't have papers," but that "was never a problem."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio