Star pre-med student faces deportation

June 22, 2011 12:02:40 AM PDT
It's been pins and needles for a Bay Area pre-med student waiting to find out whether she would be allowed to stay in the country. She's a star student voted "most likely to save the world" by her classmates, but she's also here illegally and was just hours away from being deported.

Mandeep Chahal and her mother were supposed to leave the U.S. for India late Tuesday night, but they were granted a last minute stay of deportation, but that doesn't mean her ordeal is over.

Chahal graduated from Los Altos High School two years ago and is currently in the pre-med honors program at U.C. Davis. The 20 year old is also in the U.S. illegally.

"She didn't break the law willfully. She was brought here, she didn't know anything about it, she was coming here to see dad and I don't think you can hold her culpable," said former teacher Robert Freeman.

Regardless, ICE agents and the U.S. Department Of Homeland Security are. Chahal and her mother came to the U.S. illegally from India in 1997, seeking asylum. It was denied. Their attorney was in the midst of the appeal, when the deportation order came down Friday.

"I think that we shouldn't have been here in the first place. I think what we should have had was an opportunity to at least get through the appeal process without also facing a removal order," said attorney Kalpana Peddibhotla.

Late on Tuesday, ICE granted the pair a temporary stay and Mandeep Chahal, who wouldn't talk to ABC7 on Tuesday, wrote the following on her Facebook page: "I would like to express my profound gratitude to the thousands of people who have rallied together in support of my family. Your activism could help create an America where no family has to go through what mine has."

"My problem is there are legal ways to enter this country and legal ways to actually obtain citizenship," said Minutemen member Roberta Allen.

Members of the Minutemen applaud ICE's crack down on undocumented immigrants, but thousands of Chahal's followers think otherwise. Her attorney points to an online Facebook following and petition as reason for her sudden release.

Life still won't go back to normal for Chahal and her mother. They can be deported at any time and for now, Chahal cannot return to U.C. Davis.


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