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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Luisa Argueta, DREAM Act-Eligible Teen, Asks Sen. Feinstein to Stop Deportation

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Luisa Argueta, center, and her mother, Brenda Gutierrez
  • Luisa Argueta, center, and her mother, Brenda Gutierrez

Update, 5:30 p.m.: A Feinstein spokesperson says that the senator's office received information about the case and "is currently reviewing the matter."

Original post:

A 19-year-old Antioch resident eligible for the DREAM Act is asking Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) to halt her and her mother's deportation in September. Feinstein has proved to be a compassionate resource for such interventions: Last year, she did the same for City College student Steve Li, saying it would be unfair to deport him to Peru before Congress voted on the DREAM Act.

Luisa Argueta is what her attorney calls the "classic DREAM Act kid." Argueta's mother brought her to the United States from Guatemala when she was 4 months old. Argueta recently finished her first year at Diablo Valley Community College, and hopes to transfer to a four-year university. She is eligible for the DREAM Act, which would provide a route to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to America as kids and who complete two years of college or serve in the military. However, the legislation was defeated in Congress in December, which means Argueta has to leave.

But the question is will Feinstein intervene again?

"They're basically out of options," says San Francisco-based attorney Zachary Nightingale, who is representing the women. "We're asking Senator Feinstein's office for a special bill. ... it seems like a sympathetic case that someone like Feinstein would be interested in intervening in."

Luisa's mother, Brenda Gutierrez, applied for asylum after arriving in the United States, but the petition was denied in 2007. The government claimed they had insufficient grounds of persecution in Guatemala. Still, the Department of Homeland Security granted them permission to stay in the country until 2010, because Brenda's five-year-old daughter, Daniela, has neutropenia, a rare disorder that requires attention and frequent medical screening.

They reapplied in January, but immigration officials told them they would be deported on September 12.

Nightingale says that Feinstein is considering the private bill request, but the senator's spokesman didn't immediately have a comment on Thursday afternoon.

The deportation would break up Argueta's family. Her mother is now married to a U.S. resident who owns a moving company and they have two young daughters -- both are U.S. citizens.

"The family therefore represents exactly the type of mixed family of United States citizens and foreign nationals that any comprehensive immigration reform bill would seek to benefit," Nightingale writes in a statement.

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Lauren Smiley


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