DULUTH, Ga. - The clock is ticking for a Gwinnett County teen facing deportation after a fender bender.
Paula de Lima Villafan, 18, and her family are fighting to stay in the country
Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh talked with lawyers about the unique legal situation that's making Villafan's case even more tricky.
Villafan and her attorney, Vanessa Kosky, are working to hold off her August
deportation, but Kosky admits Villafan's case is a long shot.
"That will ruin her future," Kosky said.
Paula and her family immigrated to the U.S. 14 years ago when she was
4. They came from Uruguay under what's known as a Visa Waiver Program.
They didn't need a visa, but were only granted a
six-month stay. At the same time, the family gave up a lot in return.
"You renounce all rights to challenge deportation proceedings. So you if you ever violate the terms of the visa waiver program entry into United States, then you are subject to a removal order," Kosky said.
Kosky argues there's a glaring problem with that the U.S. immigration system when a 4-year-old can waive her right to due process.
"You don't get to go before a judge and say,
'Your honor these are the reasons I want to stay in the country,'" Kosky said.
In April, police arrested Villafan for driving without a license following a minor traffic accident. The deportation process began immediately.
"Clearly there should be some allowances made for individuals who come here not of their own
choosing," said defense attorney Doug Rohan.
Rohan is a criminal defense attorney who also specializes in immigration law.
He says Villafan is one of thousands of teens that would benefit from the so-called Dream Act, legislation aimed at finding a way to let children of undocumented immigrants gain some sort of legal status in the U.S.
"There has to be something aside from deportation, namely because deportation is a permanent sentence," Rohan said.
Villafan and her attorney are expected to file paperwork Friday to try and hold off her deportation.
Kavanaugh received a statement from Immigration, Customs and Enforcement that said they will review the matter once it's filed.