Parents at fault for students facing deportation issues

Junette Reyes/Staff Writer

Daniela Pelaez is not the first student to be threatened with deportation, nor will she be the last. It is yet another situation in which a child is forced to pay for the parents’ mistakes, which is unfair for anyone who finds themselves in a similar circumstance.

Unfortunately for Daniela and her sister, this is simply a matter of not following the law, and until something is done to help faultless children that show signs of having a bright future, things will continue to be the same.

With a stroke of luck, the girls were granted two more years without the threat of deportation. This does not mean deportation in the future is not a possibility, but it certainly presents a window of time to settle things in their favor.

Daniela and her family came to the United States from Barranquilla, Colombia when she was just four years old with a tourist visa. She and her family over-stayed their visit.

Since then, only her brother Johan has been able to gain U.S. citizenship, having served in the U.S. Army. Her mother, Ana Gonzalez, has been in Colombia since 2006 after having left to get successful treatment for colon cancer; she has been unable to return to the U.S. since then. Daniela’s father, Antonio Pelaez, is the only family member to have gained residency through her brother.

Daniela applied for residency before, but was denied in 2010. It is unknown whether this was done through the brother or through the father.

With the two years granted to them, the girls are now able to try their luck once more and apply for residency through either family member. Were they to apply through their brother, they would apply as a family member of a U.S. citizen, falling under the “family preference” category. This means they are not “immediate relatives” of the U.S. citizen, which consists of one’s spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21 and parents. Were they to apply through the father, they would apply as a family member of a permanent resident who can petition for their spouse and unmarried children of any age.

However, there is generally a waiting period. Immigrant visas for “immediate relatives” of a U.S. citizen are unlimited and are, therefore, always available.

Individuals in a family-sponsored preference category are not as lucky, seeing as immigrant visas are limited to 226,000 per year and are not always available.

There are even limits to the percentage of visas that can be apportioned to each country. Applying through their father might be their best option at gaining residency because their chances would increase should the father gain citizenship, in turn pushing them up to the “immediate relatives” category.

While I have no hesitation in believing that Daniela and her sister should not be deported, it is her parents’ mistakes that make the situation all the more complicated for me. As previously mentioned, this is a matter of following the laws that are set up to prevent such a situation.

Granted, many factors can take part in limiting a parent from securing their child’s future. Still, the parents should have applied for residency and citizenship much sooner, which, if successful, could in turn have increased the girls’ chances of attaining a visa.

Of course, this is no longer a matter of “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve;” scrutinizing the past will not do anything for the girls’ futures.

Whether their parents did or did not take the initiative to do so is unknown. However, it is clear that the girls have no fault in their situation.

If the parents indeed did not do anything beforehand, blaming them for their daughters’ predicament will not solve a thing.

If they did at least try to secure their daughters’ futures, then it is simply a matter of chance and hoping that the girls will be able to do all that is necessary with their remaining time to finally settle things in their favor, as their parents had once hoped to do. 

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