Andrea Huerfano is understandably scared. In about five months, the U.S. government will separate her from her mother and brother in Coral Springs and send her to a country where she knows nobody. The 23-year-old FSU graduate is scheduled to be deported to Colombia when a six-month "stay of removal" issued in December comes to an end.
Since being detained (while paying a traffic ticket), Andrea has not commented publicly about her case. Until now. I spoke with Andrea recently, and we discussed her thoughts on the awkward situation she's in.
"I try not to think about the whole thing," she told me. "But I think about it all the time." She says the reality is just sinking in. When she talks about it, she has a hard time not crying.
Andrea came to the United States eight years ago with her family. Her father was in the process of applying for political asylum when he died in 2005. Though her mother and brother are now legal residents of this country through marriage, Andrea was stuck in limbo. Since going to pay a ticket for running a stop sign in December, her life has been a nightmare.
She spent several days in ICE custody at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach.
Her chances of staying in this country are looking slim. According to her attorney, at this point, Andrea will need either a private bill of Congress (similar to the legislation regarding Terri Schiavo) or for the federal government to pass and enact the so-called DreamAct. If she's deported, it's possible she wouldn't be allowed back in the United States for ten years.
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Before she was detained, Andrea actually helped campaign for the DreamAct. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Richard Lugar of Indiana and Rep. Howard Berman of California. If passed, the law would grant residency to immigrants who came to this country as minors, graduated high school, have lived her for at least five years, and show "good moral character."
Andrea and her attorney believe she fits that description perfectly.
But even if she isn't allowed to stay -- and she says she hasn't given up hope -- she'd like to be a voice for the thousands of other young people in similar situations. "There are a lot of people being taken away from their families, and it's painful," she told me.
"I hope my story can help change that. I'd like some good to come from all of the bad."