This High School Student Is Facing Deportation — & Immigration Rights Activists Say Her Life Could Be In Danger

Photo: Courtesy of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.
Update: This story has been updated with a comment from the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It was originally published on February 19, 2016.
An immigrant rights group is calling attention to the case of a 19-year-old high school student who it says is facing deportation to Honduras — a move that would put her life in danger. Kimberly Pineda Chavez, a high school junior living in Atlanta, was stopped and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while riding to school with her cousin last month, according to the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). She has since been held at the Irwin Detention Center and is expected to be deported as soon as next week, the group's leader says. A spokesman for ICE confirmed that Pineda Chavez was taken into custody in January in accordance with the agency's enforcement priorities. Bryan Cox told Refinery29 that an immigration judge ruled on her case in December 2014 and ordered her removal from the country. He said he was unable to comment on future operations, including any specifics surrounding a possible deportation in this case, due to security concerns. But activists say returning to Honduras could prove dangerous for the teen, who came to the United States with her mother and sister in 2014 following harassment and threats from police at home. Police in Honduras allegedly stole the family's valuables and then threatened to "kidnap and rape Kimberly and her siblings" if the family didn't pay them, according to a summary of her case posted online as part of the #Not1More campaign.

"The reason why she is here is looking for protection. Now, she will be separated [from] her family as well. That's the concern that we have," Adelina Nicholls, executive director of GLAHR, told Refinery29. "She's a pretty young lady that deserved to stay — she was at the high school. She doesn’t pose a threat to the national security.” Nicholls' group has launched an online campaign calling on ICE officials to stop Chavez's deportation and set her free. They're also trying to track down a lawyer who they believe submitted an asylum claim on her behalf prior to her detention.

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