Ayded Reyes attends Southwestern College just outside of San Diego. She is the highest ranked women’s junior college cross country runner in the state, a community activist who volunteers her time with the elderly, and still maintains a 3.5 grade point average. By all accounts, she is an outstanding citizen of the United States. The problem is, she isn’t – the 20-year-old was brought into the country from Mexico by her parents when she was just two years old, and she does not have U.S. citizenship.
Reyes’ story of potential deportation hinges on what appears to be a suspicious arrest in October 2011. She was sitting in her boyfriend’s car when a police officer approached the vehicle and asked the two for identification. She could only present a college ID, and told the officer she didn’t have a state ID or Social Security card. The police took Reyes in and said they performed a standard background check, which revealed she was not a legal U.S. citizen. She was then given to border patrol authorities who incarcerated her for five days, during which Reyes was “scared to death,” she said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents harassed Reyes and tried to force her to sign deportation papers, which she rejected. “They kept calling Mexico ‘your country.’ They kept saying ‘You should go back to your country,’ but it’s not my country,” Reyes said. “I don’t know anyone in Mexico, not a single person.”
Reyes earned a reprieve though from Bob Filner, a U.S. Representative of California, who was notified by Reyes’ coach that she was facing deportation. Filner has gone a step further and introduced a private bill to grant Reyes citizenship under special circumstances. However, Reyes still faces deportation and her status could be determined as soon as March when a judge hears her case.
(Article continued January 12, 2018)
Continuing our discussion about Ayded Reyes, we now look at how the cross country runner and Southwestern College student is dealing with her potential deportation.
Reyes has been recruited by multiple Ivy League schools because of her incredible athletic gifts. Last year, she helped her team win the Pacific Coast Conference team title in addition to winning the individual championship. But Reyes has been unable to enjoy her success or to think about her potential athletic future – she primarily focuses on her deportation case, trying to show the U.S. government that she deserves citizenship.
Reyes’ coach is helping her fight for citizenship, along with Bob Filner, a California representative. “This is the time when Ayded would be happily visiting schools and making her decision,” Reyes’ coach said, adding that she is an “unbelievably courageous young woman.” Filner went a step further.
“This story cries out for human treatment,” he said. “She’s been here 20 years, she’s an exceptional young woman with no ties to Mexico, yet she was in jail for five days and was very, very close to being sent there. She has done everything right, her entire life. She does not deserve this treatment.”
The DREAM Act (which stands for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors”) has still not been passed by the U.S. government, despite a flurry of proposals in the past couple of years. Such a law would grant illegal immigrants the ability to establish residency in the U.S., granted that the person has attended a U.S. high school, is under the age of 35, and displays “good moral character.”
Even though it is not yet law, with the DREAM Act is certainly on the minds of government officials, and with Filner in Reyes’ corner, she has a chance to fight off deportation.
Reyes’ attorney is cautiously optimistic. “She should and could be allowed to stay here,” he said. “It should all work in her favor, but it remains to be seen. Unfortunately, there is no consistency with these prosecutions.”
Source: ESPNW, “‘If they make me go back, I will be lost,'” Jamie Reno, Dec. 27, 2011