S. Fla. teen becomes face of Dream Act

Published On: Mar 07 2012 12:50:54 PM EST
Updated On: Mar 08 2012 02:35:46 PM EST
Daniela Pelaez
MIAMI -

A South Florida high school valedictorian whose deportation saga has made national headlines met with some key lawmakers in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Daniela Pelaez  and her sister, Dayana, were up early to fly to Washington for their meeting with Sen. Marco Rubio, who opposes the Dream Act, which the sisters support.

"I'm pretty excited. I've never been to Washington, D.C., and I'm also grateful and relieved that we got the two-year extension," Daniela Pelaez said. 

Last week, Daniela Pelaez's imminent deportation came to the attention of her classmates at North Miami Senior High School. They demonstrated their support of her, and she made the rounds of TV programs, asking for help.

On Thursday, immigration officials said they were granting Daniela and Dayana Pelaez a two-year extension. 

Dream Act eligibility would work like this: The applicant would have to enter the U.S. before age 16, would have to have lived in the U.S. for five continuous years and would have to be a high school graduate. The student would get conditional status for six years, while they would enter military service or college for two years. 

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, does not support the Dream Act. 

"Just with meeting me, he could see a perfect example of why the Dream Act would be so beneficial for millions of students like me, that we do deserve to go to college," Daniela Pelaez said. 

In addition to Rubio, the Pelaez sisters met with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson.

"These are two very brave young ladies who have gone through a situation that has captured the imaginations of a lot of people," Nelson said.

When Daniela Pelaez's case broke last week, Rubio issued a statement sympathizing with her and the plight of other bright students in similar situations. But, he stopped short of saying he would change his mind on the Dream Act.

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