Latina valedictorian, Elizabeth Olivas stuck in Mexico, may miss graduation
Here's something I never thought I would worry about: being stuck in another country and not being able to come back to the U.S. because of a minor visa technicality. But that's the situation that a Mexican-born student finds herself in.
Her story gets even crazier, though. She's just a few days from graduating high school in Indiana, where she's the homecoming queen and salutatorian, but may instead be stuck in Mexico for the next three years.
Yes, THREE YEARS. This poor girl! How is this crazy immigration law still around?
The Frankfort High School honor student stepped off a plane at Indianapolis International Airport just after midnight this past Thursday, visa in hand (after some wrangling by her lawyer) hugged her father and prepared for her next milestone: delivering the salutatorian speech at graduation Saturday. "I've got it prepared," she told reporters. "I want it to be as if I never left."
I bet 18-year-old Elizabeth Olivas never thought something like this could happen to her. I know I sure didn't. Apparently it all comes down to the fact that her father is a naturalized U.S. citizen and, although the girl has lived in the U.S. since she was 4 years old, the U.S. immigration law calls these kids an "unlawful presence" and they must return to their country of birth within 180 days of turning 18 years old and get a visa, or green card.
The Frankfort High School star student and standout athlete missed the deadline by one day. That's right, only ONE day (they forgot to count leap day, February 29th!) because her father delayed her trip as long as possible so that she wouldn't miss too much school. Considering that she's practically running the place, I can see why he'd want her to stick around and keep her grades up--but now she is facing this insane tragedy.
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Yes, I said insane tragedy. Because that's what I honestly think this is. I think it's very unfortunately that she now has to deal with all of this BS on the eve of her high school graduation--ESPECIALLY because her dad is a naturalized citizen and Olivas is clearly a gifted, intelligent young woman going places. What will happen with her college status? I hope that this issue will be resolved very, very soon—because nobody deserves to be ripped out of the country they call home because of a stupid technicality.
Do you think that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service offices should grant her a "humanitarian parole" to let her attend her high school graduation? Share with us in the comments below!
Image via Frankfort High School