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Immigration Law

One Year Later, Star Miami Student Still Has a Dream

Posted Aug 21, 2008 12:31 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A year ago, Juan Gomez was facing deportation after his high school graduation, despite his stellar record both in the classroom and as a star player on the football team.

He and his brother, now 19 and 20, respectively, had come to this country as toddlers, along with their parents, from their native Colombia. Immigration authorities caught up with the family last year, and their parents and grandmother were deported in October. But friends launched a grassroots campaign to help the brothers remain in this country, at least long enough to go to college, and a Florida lawmaker introduced a private bill in Congress to let them stay, the Miami Herald recounts.

While their fate still isn't settled, Juan Gomez is headed off to college this at Georgetown University, where he has won a partial scholarship for his sophomore year. He completed his freshman year at Miami Dade's Honors College. Immigration authorities have agreed to let him and his brother stay until the private bill is voted on by Congress, the newspaper explains.

The brothers' situation struck a sympathetic chord with many observers, and they have become high-profile representatives of a nationwide group of successful immigrant children whose opportunities in American life are limited due to their illegal status.

They continue to lobby for passage of the federal DREAM Act. First introduced in 2001, it seeks to offer some 65,000 law-abiding high school graduates who aren't legal residents, yet may have lived in the U.S. most of their lives, the opportunity to continue their education here and eventually become permanent residents, explains the National Immigration Law Center in a press release.

"It's been really exciting," Gomez tells the Herald, as he prepares to move to Washington, D.C., for the start of the college semester next week. "I feel like my best chances of staying in this country are going to a prestigious institution like Georgetown.''

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Reprieve for Star Florida Student in Deportation Case"

ABAJournal.com: "FL Family in Publicized Case Deported"

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