Family facing deportation to Peru granted stay

January 6, 2011 7:38:18 PM PST
A San Francisco family on the verge of deportation to Peru was granted a six-month stay on Thursday. Their church and friends are rallying to help them stay beyond that.

Elizabeth Lee, 18, and her 16-year-old brother were brought to the U.S. from Peru by their mother 10 years ago, seeking asylum from racial discrimination.

"I didn't really understand what it was to be undocumented until 2006 when mom was suddenly arrested by immigration and my brother and I found ourselves in foster care," said Elizabeth Lee.

They were facing deportation on January 19, but on Thursday they were granted a six-month stay. Their Mission Dolores congregation, friends, immigration advocates and Elizabeth's Lowell High School principal are rallying to keep them here.

"If we together can grant this, this family will give back to our society two-fold," said Lowell principal Andrew Ishibashi.

Elizabeth graduated from Lowell last year and was accepted to UC Berkeley. Lawyers have just come on-board to help. Until now, the family had no legal representation.

"I'm very nervous about what's going to happen because if it doesn't work out, I have to go back to Peru and I have no one there. I have no family, no friends," said Elizabeth.

"When ICE grants stays like this. When the community shows what our immigration system is doing and people change their minds, it's an indication of where we can go and should go so I'm very, very hopeful for the future for this family," immigration attorney Francisco Ungarre.

San Francisco nursing student Steve Li, came to the rally. Steve was also brought from Peru as a child, and never knew he was undocumented until being deported and sent to an Arizona detention facility for two months last year. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D- Calif., stepped in to buy him a year to make the case to stay.

"I'm still uncertain future for myself," Steve Li.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, says it cannot comment.