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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

DREAM Act Debacle: Lowell High School Grad Set For Deportation

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 3:38 PM

  • Melissa Lee works the cameras

Congress failed again last month to corral the needed votes to put the DREAM Act back on the table -- and the fallout looks something like this:

Eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Lee was on a successful trajectory; she had graduated from

Lowell High School - the city's most prestigious public high school -

last year and was planning to study social work at UC-Berkeley.

That was until she found out that she and her 16-year-old brother, Felix, a junior at Lowell, are being deported Jan.19. after a decade of living in San Francisco.

The two teens and their mother, Melissa, lost their claim for asylum and are now being forced to go back to Peru.

The DREAM ACT, about which we wrote a cover story

last summer, would give immigrants who came to the United States as

children and attend college or join the military, a pathway to


The two Lee teenagers and their mother were granted a humanitarian stay until
this month -- and immigrant activists are hoping this gives them enough time to help.

Mission Dolores church, where the family has attended services for years, contacted  immigration activists who are packing the pressure on authorities to grant the family another stay while they pursue other avenues of becoming legal residents.

No parade here: Melissa and Felix Lee march with Steve Li, left, at a prayer service for the Lees at Mission Dolores last month.
  • No parade here: Melissa and Felix Lee march with Steve Li, left, at a prayer service for the Lees at Mission Dolores last month.

This case is eerily familiar to that of Steve Li, the 20-year-old City College student who became a poster child of the DREAM ACT issue as he awaited deportation. The Li case prodded Senator Dianne Feinstein to introduce a private bill that would block his deportation. Li was released from a immigration detention facility in Arizona after a six-week detainment.

Immigration advocates are sending a warning.

"The reality is we don't have a DREAM Act. It didn't pass and now we're going to see a lot of these cases coming up," said Emmanuelle Leal, an organizer with the San Francisco Organizing Project.

Activists and the family will have a press conference at the Mission Dolores church Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Supervisor David Campos and Lowell Principal Andrew Ishibashi are scheduled to attend.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly 

Photos provided by Emmanuelle Leal 

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Lauren Smiley


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