Dec 28, 2011, 4:49 PM EDT
Twenty-year-old Junior College cross country runner Ayded Reyes is living the American dream — or would be, if San Diego authorities weren’t trying to deport her to Mexico. Reyes, a conference cross country champion and 3.50 GPA student, came to the U.S. with her parents at the age of 3, and has three siblings born here who are U.S. citizens. But she is technically an illegal alien, a fact she discovered when police asked for her ID one night recently in a San Diego park.
Now there’s a controversy over what happens next: Immigration and Customs Enforcement says she should be deported, and was within hours of doing so when San Diego-based Congressman Bob Filner stepped in and got her released. A number of people are trying to figure out a way for her to stay. Reyes has a hearing in March that will decide her fate. From NBC San Diego:
Last Thursday night, that reality caught up with her at a park in Logan Heights. It was around 10:30 p.m., when she says a San Diego Harbor police officer came up to the window of her boyfriend’s parked car and asked the two for identification.
“I showed him my Southwestern I.D. and all the I.D.’s that I could possibly find,” said Reyes. But she said the officer persisted.
“So he asked me if I had a Social Security card I said no I don’t and he said then how do I know this is you? Then the next thing I know I see the Border Patrol van…so they took me away,” said Reyes.
Reyes was released by Border officials Monday. When her cross country coach heard what happened he stepped in and called Congressman Bob Filner.
“You can’t assume someone is illegal. I don’t have any I.D. on me right now,” said Filner.
Filner is working on a private bill, one which grants citizenship based upon special circumstances.
Is it legal for police to grill someone on their immigration status during a routine check? I’ve been stopped a few times by the police (let’s not get into it), but have never been asked to give them my social security number. It’s hard to imagine an officer looking at me and saying, ‘OK, back to Ireland with you, pal.’ This only seems to happen to people with darker skin who live in southwestern states.
Reyes said that she was pressured to sign deportation papers, and that the ICE kept telling her she should go back to “your country.” ESPN:
Reyes desperately searched for an attorney to represent her, but had little luck at first. She’s a full-time student-athlete with very little money. Her parents, both undocumented workers who make minimum wage, help pay for her tuition.
Then Reyes found Jacob Sapochnick, a prominent immigration attorney in San Diego, who, after hearing her story, decided to take her case pro bono.
“Whoever stopped them from the Harbor Police went too far. There was no probable cause that there was any criminal activity,” Sapochnick said. “There were no drugs or alcohol; there was no reason for them to verify her ID or for them to call the federal government.”
Said Reyes on facing deportation: “If they make me go back, I will be lost.”
Reyes, who runs for Southwestern Junior College in Chula Vista, is the Pacific Coast Conference women’s cross country champion and has a 3.50 GPA. She’s being recruited by at least two colleges right now, and wants to be an obstetrician.
‘If they make me go back, I will be lost’ [ESPN]
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