Danell Leyva Entered The US Illegally – And Helped Carry The US To An Olympic Medal

lThe Huffington Post recently published the amazing story of Danell Leyva, a member or the US Olympic Team who recently helped the team win a bronze medal in the All Around event. As the US Gets to revel in the glory of another Olympic Medal at the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games, it’s important to note that Leyva entered the United States illegally as an undocumented toddler from Cuba. 

Leyva the son of Cuban Olympians

Leyva’s own parents were Olympic Gymnasts competing from Cuba. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 allowed the family to legalize their status, which emphasizes the importance of investing in immigrants to the United States – there might even be an Olympic medal in it for the country.

Life can be difficult for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Consider that 65,000 undocumented students in the United States graduate from high school each and every year – a pool of unlimited potential that is only facing hurdles.

Leyva is not the only undocumented success story – in 2004, the team that won the national Underwater Robotics Championship consisted of four undocumented high school students. They beat out MIT, but that’s where the “success” part of this story ends – one is at a community college and another works as a carpenter, because the scholarships and academic accolades that should have been presented to them just can’t be handed out to undocumented kids.

Barriers like these need to be broken – President Obama has recently announced a plan to provide undocumented young people the ability to receive a work permit if they have graduated high school in the United States or served in the military – which would assist up to 800,000 deserving kids. It’s a start, but it’s not enough in the end.

The United States has embraced Leyva and all of the national pride he’s brought us with this medal – imagine the potential in the rest of the undocumented children and youth across the country that’s let to be tapped.


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