2:40 PM Eastern - Thursday, July 2, 2009

Breaking: DHS defers deportation of Walter Lara for one year

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and the blogosphere have been buzzing over the past 48 hours, as thousands of grassroots activists and Congressional leaders contacted the Department of Homeland Security to stop the deportation of Walter Lara, a 23 year-old honor student facing deportation this Independence Day weekend. Today, Walter Lara was granted a one year stay of his deportation.

In response to DHS's deferment, Walter issued the following statement:

"Today, words cannot express my gratitude to Secretary Janet Napolitano, Senator Bill Nelson, Representatives Corrine Brown, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and the thousands of grassroots activists whose unified efforts have given me a second chance to live out my American Dream.

"As I look to celebrate Independence Day with family and friends this weekend, I have once again seen what makes America the best country in the world. Americans are fair, just, and kind. When we unite our strength to defend our shared values -opening rather than shutting the doors of opportunity - we can achieve anything. As I have said before, America is the only country I have known and I am an American. I have never been more proud to say that than I am today.

"But even as the dust settles on this tremendous personal victory, my sights are clearly set on the struggle ahead to build a long-term future for me and the more than 2 million like me whose lives may be cut short and dreams deferred.

"The action taken by the leaders in Congress and the Department of Homeland Security is an acknowledgment that our immigration laws are broken. The DREAM Act, if passed, would help people like myself, who came here through no fault of their own, stay in this country, be put on a path to citizenship and contribute to our nation."
Tell Secretary Naplitano thank you for exercising her discretion and recognizing the value of students like Walter.

More background on Walter and the campaign that spread that wildfire to keep him from being deported after the break.

The subject of major media attention in Florida and of growing concern across the nation over the past couple of days, Walter Lara graduated from Miami Dade college with honors, and graduated from high school with an astounding 4.7 GPA and more than 1,000 hours of community service. He has never been arrested. However, because his family emigrated from Argentina when he was three years old, he is undocumented -- a fact he learned only a few years ago while applying to college.

Walter's Facebook page has about 2,000 supporters and in just one day of tweeting, Walter gained nearly 300 people following him on Twitter..

Secretary Napolitano's office has been flooded with thousands of calls and emails, asking for a review of Walter's case. Thousands have signed the letter, which Lara will deliver to DHS tomorrow.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to review Walter's case and stay the deportation. In addition, Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL) introduced a "personal bill" to halt Walter's deportation.

Today, as Walter Lara was granted a one year stay of his deportation, please take a moment to thank Secretary Napolitano and help us pass the DREAM Act by co-signing Walter's thank you letter today.

Background on the DREAM Act: The DREAM Act was introduced into the House and Senate on March 26. This legislation would prevent the situation facing Walter Lara today, by providing legal status for young people who were brought to the U.S. years ago as undocumented immigrant children through no fault of their own. For the estimated 2 million high school graduates effected, who continue on to college or military service, the DREAM Act would provide a pathway to legal residency.

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