By now you're likely well aware of Ralph Isenberg's ongoing efforts to bring Saad Nabeel back to North Texas, after the the 20-year-old Frisco Liberty High grad was sent to Bangladesh last year by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials -- after Saad's parents' application for political asylum was denied and their application for resident status stalled out. But Nabeel's case is not the only one on Isenberg's to-do list.
The former City Plan Commissioner has also been working with 20-year-old Olga Zanella of Irving, a college student who, ever since her parents brought her and her siblings up from Mexico 15 years ago, has been living in the U.S. illegally. ICE has been trying to deport Olga for the past two years -- after Irving police pulled her over, discovered she didn't have a driver's license and turned her over to immigration authorities.
Yet again, The New York Times takes note of Isenberg's efforts to help college students here illegally live the American Dream -- or, at least, the Dream Act, legislation that would have protected college students from deportation had it not stalled out late last year. Zanella, for now, will not be deported: Earlier this week she and her family met with Dallas ICE officials, who, per Julia Preston's piece this morning, told Olga she could remain in this country "if she stayed in school and out of trouble." Her family is also trying to gain legal immigration status. Says Olga, "It's better than being in the shadows."
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The about-face by ICE in Ms. Zanella's case is an example of the kind of action Democratic lawmakers and Latino and immigrant groups have been demanding from the Obama administration to slow deportations of illegal immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes. In particular, pressure is increasing on President Obama to offer protection from deportation to illegal immigrant college students who might have been eligible for legal status under a bill in Congress known as the Dream Act.
In an April 13 letter, the top two Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada and Richard Durbin of Illinois, asked the president to suspend deportations for those students. But short of that, the senators asked Mr. Obama to set guidelines by which those students could come forward individually to ask to be spared deportation and to obtain some authorization to remain in the United States. The letter was signed by 20 other Senate Democrats. The Dream Act passed the House but failed in the Senate in December.
Homeland Security officials have said their focus is increasingly on removing immigrants who are convicted criminals. That, in fact, is what an ICE official told Ms. Zanella in explaining the new decision in her case.