May 30, 2008

The DREAM Act Must Pass!

Another story of a model "American" student being deported because of where they were born. The DREAM Act would allow young people that go to college or join the U.S. military for 2 years to legalize their status and become U.S. Legal Permanent Residents. (Randall)


Scholarship may aid teen's quest to stay in U.S.
05/30/2008
Miami Herald - Online
ANI MARTINEZ



Meynardo Garcia's battle to avoid deportation took a positive turn this week when the 18-year-old Coconut Creek High School senior was awarded an art scholarship.

The Art Institute of Weston offered Meynardo a four-year $72,000 scholarship, beginning in 2008.

Meynardo's immigration case has drawn public attention after hundreds of his high school classmates, along with his art teacher, rallied behind the Mexican teen who is fighting to stay in the country. At age 10, his mother hired a smuggler to bring him to the United States. His undocumented status was discovered by authorities last August.

His immigration attorney, Jorge Rivera, said the scholarship could delay Meynardo's deportation.

''This scholarship gives us an incentive to be able to ask for four more years,'' Rivera said. ''The judge may be more sympathetic since he will be furthering his education and will have everything paid for.'''DEFERRED ACTION'He said the judge could take ''deferred action'' on Meynardo's case, allowing the teen to remain here to complete his studies. The next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Meynardo would start classes Sept. 1.

The Art Institute of Weston is willing to gamble on Meynardo because of his talent.

''We felt compassionate when we saw his art work,'' said the school's director, Charles Lechesnay. ''We want to give him the opportunity to stay in this country, but to also learn the skill professionally as an artist.''

Meynardo, a native of Oaxaca, Mexico, has won several local and national art competitions for his intricate airbrushed art pieces. He wants to become an artist and open art studios around the world -- especially in Mexico -- for children to have a chance to express themselves.

Meynardo lives in North Lauderdale, with his mother, her boyfriend and their two U.S.-born children. Neither the mother or her boyfriend are legal U.S. residents. Meynardo's lack of documentation went undetected until last summer, when he and a friend were stopped in their car at a security checkpoint in the Port of Miami.

Unable to produce any identification, police contacted U.S. immigration agents who eventually sent Meynardo to a detention center in New York; his friend was deported.

A RELATIVE ACTS

A relative called Meynardo's high school art teacher Jacqueline Sacs and asked her to write and fax a letter to immigration authorities. Days later, he was released from custody in New York and reunited with his family in South Florida.

His case is not uncommon. Each year, 65,000 teenagers -- who were brought to the country illegally by their parents -- graduate from high school and cannot continue their studies because of their immigration status.

Immigration advocates have long argued that these children are being punished for the wrongs of their parents.

They have spent years unsuccessfully lobbying Congress to approve the so-called DREAM Act. If passed, the bill would grant legal residency to those going to college or joining the military.

In Meynardo's case, he's gotten the support of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. She sent letters to President Bush, acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Jonathan Scharfen and Chief Judge Stephen Mander.

''He wants to inspire young people to become artists . . .'' Ros-Lehtinen wrote in the letter. ''Meynardo is a remarkable and talented role model who would be an asset to our nation.''

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