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Deportation defense wins reprieve for teenagers

In 2004, President George W. Bush proposed that millions of undocumented immigrants gain legal status, impacting immigrants across the United States, including South Carolina. More recently, the Obama Administration indicated that it would allow discretion for certain undocumented immigrants including those:

• With no criminal record

• Who care for a sick child

• Who have been victims of domestic violence or other crime

• Who arrive in the United States as children

These initiatives were put in play this week as two sisters were shown leniency in earning a reprieve from a deportation order issued by an immigration judge.

This means that the children who have been here for the majority of their lives are now undocumented and they have been pursued by immigration authorities. The two were slated for deportation at the end of this month, until just recently when they were granted a reprieve for two more years.

As a result of an outpouring of community support earning national attention, including a large public demonstration, federal immigration authorities decided not to deport the girls during the next two years. This decision came as a result of "prosecutorial discretion" which can be utilized depending on the circumstances of each individual's case.

In this case, the authorities decided that removing these two girls at this point in their schooling would not be effective immigration enforcement. These girls have no criminal records, did not recently cross the border and have not egregiously violated immigration law.

Instead, they were simply children who were brought to the United States by their parents. In addition, the older sister who has been living in the United States since the age of four is currently the valedictorian of her high school, obviously a high academic achiever. Her brother is a member of the U.S. Army and has already become a U.S. citizen, which also allowed their father to gain residency.

The girls are hoping to obtain another two year extension and to appeal the original deportation order so that they can stay in the United States permanently.

Source: The Miami Herald, "North Miami valedictorian wins reprieve on deportation," Laura Insensee, Mar. 3, 2012

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