Miami Teens Lobby for Friends Facing Deportation A group of Miami teenagers is visiting Capitol Hill this week to lobby members of Congress. They're friends of two young men whose family is about to be deported back to Colombia after overstaying their visas.
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Miami Teens Lobby for Friends Facing Deportation

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Miami Teens Lobby for Friends Facing Deportation

Miami Teens Lobby for Friends Facing Deportation

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

A group of Miami teenagers is visiting Capitol Hill this week, not for a school trip but to lobby members of Congress. They're friends of two young men whose family is about to be deported back to Colombia after overstaying their visas 16 years ago. They're asking Congress to pass a bill that would allow the Gomez children to remain in the U.S. Scott Friedberg(ph) is one of them. Welcome.

Mr. SCOTT FRIEDBERG: Thank you. Glad to be here.

MONTAGNE: So let's start with how you all first heard from Juan, who alerted you that his family was being deported.

Mr. FRIEDBERG: Juan called us - he called me about 7:00 AM. He was on his way to the deportation center. And we all thought he was joking, because he's a funny guy and he jokes a lot, and we never expected this at all.

MONTAGNE: So what did he say happened?

Mr. FRIEDBERG: He told us that he was taken away in handcuffs with his brother, his parents. And his brother asked to get a shirt - they didn't allow him. It was kind of like he was a criminal, and he's not a criminal. And it's ridiculous.

MONTAGNE: So what did you do when you got that call?

Mr. FRIEDBERG: It started just - 10 of our friends got together at my friend Eddie's(ph) house we call it headquarters. We have 10 laptops set up with 10 friends. That same night, we created a Facebook group. Our group is called the Dream Act: Helping back Juan Gomez. And we told people to start making calls and start calling the government. Start calling ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Start writing letters.

MONTAGNE: So, up to how many people in the group?

Mr. FRIEDBERG: Today there's 2,000.

MONTAGNE: As of today?

Mr. FRIEDBERG: As of today.

MONTAGNE: As of today there's 2000.

Mr. FRIEDBERG: Uh-huh.

MONTAGNE: Tell us about your friend Juan and his brother Alex. What kind of young men are they?

Mr. FRIEDBERG: Well, Juan, he's the best friend and he's the smartest kid as anyone can say in our school. And we don't know how he does it, but he does. He got a 1410 on his SATs, took 14 AP classes, 300-plus hours of community service. I'm not really friendly with Alex as much, because he's not in my grade. But I heard Alex is a great kid as well. They both have two to three jobs. They're trying to provide for their families.

MONTAGNE: Now, there are those who will say the Gomez family broke the law. And Immigration, in fact, they had given them several years - the parents - several years to organize their lives and leave the country.

Mr. FRIEDBERG: Right.

MONTAGNE: They didn't do that. I mean, I know these are your friends, but have you thought about why they should be allowed to stay here?

Mr. FRIEDBERG: It's totally true. But the thing is we need to change, and we just have to face it. The laws aren't right at all times. I love America, and I follow the laws and they're always good. But, you know, this time it's not.

MONTAGNE: Have you spoken to Juan or Alex in the last few days? I mean, do you know how they're doing?

Mr. FRIEDBERG: Every day we speak to Juan, one call. We gather around; it's the best five minutes every day. The first couple of minutes are business. I mean, we tell him everything about the media and where we're getting with our Facebook group.

The rest of the call is just fun and we just tell we love him. He tells us, I'm so grateful, I love my friends. And he tells us all the funny stories in jail and how he's making friends. And he's hanging in there and he can take care of himself in the worst situations.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much.

Mr. FRIEDBERG: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: Scott Friedberg talking about his friend Juan Gomez. The Gomez family just got some good news. Immigration authorities have agreed to delay their deportation for 45 days and they were released from detention last evening.

Meanwhile, members of Congress from Florida say they'll sponsor the bill to keep the Gomez sons in the U.S. It's unlikely such a bill will pass, but it would let the Gomez brothers, who came to the U.S. when they were one and two years old, stay until Congress takes up the Dream Act again. That's the bill which would legalize the status of children of illegal immigrants.

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