High School Valedictorian to be Forced to Leave Due to Green Card Oversight

Jireh Lee Silva was brought to the United States legally four years ago by her mother. According to Dublin, Ohio, NBC affiliate WCMH, after working hard at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Silva became the valedictorian of her high school class. While Silva was preparing to attend college at one of the many U.S. universities she was accepted to, she was stopped short by immigration authorities. She is currently packing up her bags to move back to her native country of the Philippines.

The reason for her deportation? A small technicality in her green card application.

According to the source, Silva originally came to the United States on her mother Nerisa’s visa as a dependent. Nerisa, who works as an international special education teacher in Maryland, recently found out that her school system was debarred from hiring teachers in her immigration situation. Because of her mother’s green card situation, Jireh is also currently without a green card. Since she cannot apply for a U.S. visa on her own, she must move back to the Philippines.

Despite her dire circumstances, Silva has remained optimistic. She hopes to attend one of the Philippines’ top universities, where tuition is much more affordable.

Silva’s story isn’t the only one of its kind, however. Daniela Pelaez, this year’s valedictorian for North Miami High School, was nearly deported in March 2012. In May, however, Pelaez worked with one Florida congressman to introduce the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act, or STARS, on Capitol Hill, according to MSNBC. The bill will allow illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States before age 16 and have lived here for five years to stay in the United States an additional five years to earn a college degree and work toward attaining legal citizenship.