What a waste of an opportunity for this country. From the Newark Star Ledger:


Vidal Tapia is by all accounts International High School's brightest prospect. A teacher-described "pillar of strength" at the Paterson school, he carries a 4.0 GPA, a National Honor Society membership and a slew of community service hours. He was tapped as his class's valedictorian to give the commencement address in June. Eventually, he wants to work for NASA.


But his plans might fall short of even graduation, not because of any academic problems, but rather an immigration snare. By next week, the 19-year-old senior could be sent back to his native Mexico, barred from returning to the United States for a decade.


Tapia immigrated here illegally about five years ago. Since then, his petition for U.S. residency has been accepted and an interview for a green card was scheduled for Wednesday at the consulate in Ciudad Juarez. But because he unlawfully crossed the border and now is an adult, he is likely to face a 10-year ban from setting foot on U.S. soil, regardless of whether he qualifies for residency status. That would mean no commencement speech in June, no diploma in the near future and no American job possibilities until he's in his 30s.


"I'm here to continue my education. My hope in this country is to become better and better," said Tapia, sitting in a school conference room Thursday. "Having to go back will disturb all that -- all my goals."