Community rallies around deported student

March 3, 2012 at 5:14 PM

MIAMI, March 3 (UPI) -- Members of the North Miami community rallied around honor student and valedictorian Daniela Pelaez, who is to be deported.

Pelaez's cause was taken up by hundreds of her classmates at North Miami High School at a rally Friday, marking one of the biggest immigration protests in South Florida since 2004. Joining students was Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre.

"I can hardly find the words to express what I feel now as an immigrant," Carvalho told The Miami Herald. Carvalho hails from Portugal, and said he labored in service and construction before becoming superintendent of schools. "That is the power of education, a power and a right that shall not be denied to Daniela," he added.

Pelaez, originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, received an order for voluntary departure Tuesday. Her attorney will file an appeal next week, a process which could take years, but would keep her in the country.

Pelaez and her sister have struggled to find a means to remain in the country legally. She came to the United States when she was four years old on a tourist visa, which she overstayed. In 2010 she applied for residency, but was denied.

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