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UPDATED: Washington Post Spotlights Heydi Mejia, DREAMer Facing Imminent Deportation

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UPDATE: Heydi Mejia learned late yesterday that her deportation was deferred:

Mejia’s reprieve came unannounced in a fax that arrived at her attorney’s office in the late afternoon. It represented the first step in what could be a long legal process, Malik said.

“The Deferred Action will expire June 11, 2013,” the memo read.

Here’s how TNR’s Nathan Pippinger responded to the news:

*Update: I learn, via Dara Lind of America’s Voice, that ICE has granted deferred action to Heydi. Like I said, there’s nothing quite like the threat of bad press. Still, while this is good news, the sad truth is that there are thousands more in Heydi’s situation, and they can’t all be featured on the front page of a major newspaper.


Today, in a front page, above-the-fold article in the Washington Post (meaning “everyone” who gets the Post will see it), we learn the story of Heydi Mejia. She’s pictured in her graduation cap and gown, and she’s facing imminent deportation.

Heydi is a DREAMer. She came to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was four. We’ve been led to believe from Obama administration officials that DREAMers like Heydi aren’t being deported, but that just isn’t true:

Mother and daughter sat together in their basement apartment last Thursday, deadlocked in the same conversation they had been having for weeks. The daughter’s high school graduation party was scheduled for the next night, but she had yet to hand out a single invitation. The store-bought cards were still wrapped in plastic on the kitchen table next to a box of cap-and-gown-shaped confetti.

“Don’t you want to enjoy this one last thing?” asked Dora Aldana, 40, the mother.

“Why bother?” said Heydi Mejia, 18, the daughter.

Why bother: It had become her answer for so many things during the past five months, ever since immigration officials raided their apartment and her senior year became a countdown to deportation. Why bother celebrating a diploma that would mean nothing in her new life, with friends she might not see again, who wore class T-shirts that read: “Bring on Tomorrow!” and traded tips about decorating their dorm rooms?

“For me, this week feels more like a dead end,” Mejia said.

She would graduate from Meadowbrook High School on Friday, her blue gown decorated with awards from the National Honor Society, the school’s AP program and the Virginia governor.

She was scheduled to be deported to Guatemala a few days later.

THIS is how officials at Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security use their resources. Remember: We’re led to believe they’re only going after real criminals —

Then, at 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in December, nine immigration officials arrived at the family’s apartment and read Mejia and Aldana their rights. Aldana had no idea how the authorities found them, only that they did. Both women were fitted with electronic tracking devices on their ankles and ordered to buy one-way tickets to Guatemala for sometime before June 20. Mejia hid her tracking device from classmates at school by borrowing an oversized pair of jeans from her mother. Immigration officials agreed to take it off a few weeks before prom and track her location by cellphone instead.

Heydi’s story is powerful. She should qualify for prosecutorial discretion under the “Morton memo.” That she doesn’t is another glaring example of how that policy has failed:

In the election-year debate over immigration reform, the situation Mejia is in has become one of the most debated of all. What should the United States do with illegal immigrants who come to the country as children, grow up here, break no laws and want to remain? In Mejia’s case, what should be done with an illegal immigrant who came to the country at age 4; who speaks better English than Spanish; who wants to attend Randolph-Macon College in Virginia and become a nurse; whose knowledge about modern Guatemala comes in part from what she’s read on Wikipedia?

With prosecutorial discretion being such an obvious policy fail, the President needs to issue an executive order granting relief to DREAMers.