Almost-deported teen to help introduce bill

Daniela Pelaez, U.S. Rep. David Rivera to introduce STARS legislation

MIAMI - A South Florida high school valedictorian is traveling to Washington, D.C., in the hope of changing a law that almost led to her deportation.

Daniela Pelaez and her sister are both students in South Florida. Pelaez was the top of her class, but she was almost denied a diploma and deported instead.

Since then, she has been granted more time in the U.S., and she is using that time to make a difference. Pelaez, her sister and her attorney left Miami International Airport on Wednesday to travel to Washington, where she will work to help future students get an American education.

Pelaez will join U.S. Rep. David Rivera to introduce the new STARS legislation, which would grant a five-year visa extension to students who get into college and a longer extension for those who graduate. To qualify, a student must have been brought to the U.S. before age 16.

"I guess it's very near and dear to my heart. It's like a fruit of all of our labor, including the community, as well, because our last trip to Washington, we came back with a proposal, and now we're actually going to be submitting it, and it hopefully becomes an actual bill," Pelaez said.

Pelaez's attorney said the goal is to take the legislation to a committee, which will then discuss its pros and cons before possibly passing it along to become a bill.

Pelaez said the legislation has a chance to help tens of thousands of students.

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