Tonight, I caught a story on ABC World News Tonight that is headlined online, "Princeton Salutatorian Caught in Immigration Snafu".
When I heard the teaser, I was prepared to feel bad for, and angry on the behalf of, Princeton graduate Danel Padilla Peralta.
Danel came to the US from the Dominican Republic when he was 4 on a short term visa while his mother sought medical care. They stayed. Hardly an unfamiliar story, I'm guessing. This kid is impressive as hell: he fell in love with the classics and his studies of ancient Greece and Rome led to scholarships to prep schools and eventually to Princeton.
He did all this despite his undocumented status.
At this point in the story, I am imagining some horrific deportation scenario.
But Danel's problem? He's been offered a fellowship at Oxford in England and if he steps foot outside the US, he'll have to stay gone for 10 years.
But what the on-air story did not mention, and depsite implying more information could be found on-line, the linked article above is the broadcast story verbatim, is how this kid, now the subject of a national news broadcast is NOT the subject of current deportation proceedings.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he should be deported, but as much as I empathize with anyone stuck in ICE hell, if this kid's biggest problem is that he's managed to stay in the US for over 20 years, benefit from generous scholarships, obtain a fantastic education, and no one is trying to kick him out, but he can't leave with recognizing his illegal status . . . well, my empathy takes a nose-dive.
Is Danel facing a "fair" decision? Depends on your point of view.
His attorney is petitioning for a waiver to allow him to return - but I can't help wondering why he's not asking for some kind of special bill to make him American so he can travel freely and without worry? I don't understand the processes available to him nor the ones working against him, I'll admit. But this story is 100% anecdotal "woe is him," and 0% productive discussion on the real laws, regulations, and enforcement proceedings at work.
Somewhat selfishly, the story angers me because this kid is here and bemoaning the potential loss of an opportunity that would benefit him tremendously, but if he misses out, at least he's still with his loved ones in the US. He broke the law - regardless of how you feel about the underlying policy. Rob, however, arguably broke no laws and certainly benefited from no one's scholarship money or education opportunity. He doesn't want to scam a job off a hard working American. He doesn't want welfare. He wants to be able to tour the country and dump his highly valuable pounds sterling into our local economy. But he can't. So Danel can cry me a river.
That's harsh. The kid should be able to come back to where his family is because the system is so wholly broken and misapplied we should let it be the reason his brain drains to another country permanently.
But two demerits for ABC News for leaving out massive parts of the story and playing solely on pathos. I'm sure Danel could've written it better.