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Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 03/15/2012

Undocumented Montgomery College student given reprieve from deportation

Jorge Steven Acuna, an undocumented student at Montgomery College, was detained and awaiting deportation last week with his parents.

After an outpouring of protest, his family was granted a one-year reprieve from deportation late Tuesday — and a rally scheduled Wednesday to protest their detention turned into a celebration, according to an account by my colleague Pamela Constable.

Acuna came to the country from Colombia when he was 8 years old
Natalie Weill, 19, a friend of Jorge Steven Acuna, joins others along Hungerford Drive in Rockville on Wednesday, during a rally and march organized by Casa de Maryland. (Toni L. Sandys - THE WASHINGTON POST)
and became a star student. He was an honors graduate of Northwest High School in Germantown and is now on the dean’s list at Montgomery College.

In the past week, Acuna has become yet another poster child in the years-long battle for passage of the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship or legal status for committed students or military enlistees who come to the country as minors.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and many are children who have the right to be educated in public schools.

For those who succeed academically, opportunities for college are limited, though, with no access to federal student aid and few opportunities for professional work on the horizon.

In Maryland, lawmakers passed a bill last year that would have given undocumented students discounts at in-state colleges. But implementation was suspended after opponents organized against it. A referendum this year will decide its fate.

The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a statement on Monday urging the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to intervene in the Acunas’ case.

“We also call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform to finally fix this broken system,”the statement said.

By  |  11:51 AM ET, 03/15/2012

 
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