Student Living With Risk Of Deportation
Every day, Vanessa Núñez anxiously waits for the mail.
Since Oct. 30, Núñez, a mechanical engineering major at The Honors College at North Campus, has been waiting for a letter of deportation that will send her back to Venezuela.
Núñez, her mom and her sister arrived in the United States from Venezuela on Oct. 5, 2003 on a tourist visa. They remained in the country after the visa expired.
“I was a kid when I left, so basically I thought it was all good,” said Núñez, 21. “When I got here and grew up and saw how life was over there, there’s basically no comparison to my life here. I am getting an education and over there, I wouldn’t have been able to.”
This month, Núñez got some news that could affect her status.
On Dec. 8, the House of Representatives approved the DREAM Act, a piece of bipartisan legislation that gives undocumented students the opportunity to earn a pathway to citizenship by completing two years of military service or higher education.
Later this month, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill.
“I believe, if I have to leave, my life will be filled with continuous fear of being assaulted, robbed, killed and I would be devastated to cut my studies short,” Núñez said.
This is not Núñez’s first attempt at becoming a legal United States resident. In 2006, Núñez and her family filed for political asylum, requesting the right to seek shelter in another country for fear of persecution.Her request was denied.
Núñez decided to take action by taking her case to court; in November 2007, it was negated.
She filed an appeal; it was refused in August 2009.
Despite the constant rejection, Núñez didn’t give up. She filed a motion to reconsider, and in March 2010, her motion was rejected again.
On Sept. 13, 2010, Núñez’s request to reopen her case was refused. Felipe Matos, one of the four MDC alumni that participated in the Trail of Dreams, a 500-mile walk from Miami to Washington D.C. to support the DREAM Act, faced the same situation several years ago.
“I love that Vanessa has stepped up and told her story,” Matos said. “Students shouldn’t have to fear deportation.”
Núñez said the anxiety of not knowing keeps her incessantly paranoid.
“It’s gotten to the point where every time there’s a knock on the door, I freak,” Núñez said. “I tell my parents to look through the hole and make sure they know who’s knocking.”
Núñez’s story has gained a lot of publicity. Her story has been published in El Pais de España and on television shows such as Primer Impacto and Swiss TV.
The stress of the case has not affected her academic endeavors. Núñez has a 3.88 grade point average, is vice president of the Youth Environmental Sustainability Club, an active member of Students Working for Equal Rights, a member of Phi Theta Kappa and part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
Stephanie Wall, 19, a psychology major and core leader of SWER at North Campus, has offered support to Núñez.
“I think the system is unfair,” Wall said. “The fact that a student, like Vanessa, a student that works hard, wants to succeed and give back to the community, is not given the chance because of a broken immigration system.”
Núñez remains hopeful for a favorable outcome in her case.
“I don’t know what awaits me but I would be more than devastated if I am forced to leave my family, friends, studies and this place I call home,” Núñez said. “After all, home is where the heart is, and my heart is here.”
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