Frankfort High School senior honor student Elizabeth Olivas, 18, gets a hug from her father, Pascual Olivas, left, early Friday morning, June 1, 2012 after her return from Mexico to the Indianapolis International Airport.AP
Olivas, who was born in Mexico but was brought at the age of 4 to Indiana, was stuck in her native Mexico for six weeks because of immigration problems.AP
Elizabeth Olivas, Frankfort High School salutatorian, said that the best gift was being able to return in time for Saturday's graduation ceremony.AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Charlie Nye
Elizabeth Olivas has her speech written and she will get to deliver it her high school graduation.
The Indiana teenager, 18, who made national headlines after she was stuck in Mexico over an immigration technicality that barred her from returning to the U.S., arrived at the Indianapolis International Airport to a crowd of cheering family, friends and media.
"I feel awesome," Olivas said after she arrived, according to WTHR-TV. "Knowing I had people supporting me helped a lot."
One of her first matters of business will be to deliver her commencement speech. The salutatorian and prom queen at Franfort High School said she’s been ready to address her classmates, and is glad she didn’t have to make her speech from Mexico. Her school has said that if immigration authorities had not allowed her to return in time for graduation she would have been able to deliver her speech via video.
“I’ve got it prepared,” she said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I want it to be as if I never left.”
Olivas, who was brought by her parents to the United States in 1998, when she was 4, was required under Immigration law to return to her home country to apply for a visa up to six months before her 18th birthday. She flew back in April, but as it turned out, the day she arrived was just one day after the required six months.
She was not allowed to return and it could’ve meant she would have to stay there for as long as three years before she could apply again for the visa.
The homecoming queen/salutatorian/track star missed her prom, classes and track meets as she fought 1,400 miles away for the visa.
She’d been fighting this battle for her visa for 11 years, said her attorney, Sarah Moshe, but her recent saga began when Moshe contacted her about six weeks ago to tell her she needed to be on a plane that night headed to Chihuahua, Mexico.
The reason Olivas cut the time clock so close, Moshe said, is because “we couldn’t secure an appointment at the consulate earlier, so we were hesitant to have her go down there and possibly just sit for months, waiting to see someone”.
The attorney sent countless letters trying to secure an appointment, she said, and she enlisted the help of long time Indiana Senator Richard Lugar.
Frankfort High School Principal Steve Edwards, who had been trying to get Olivas to deliver her speech whether she made it back or not, said the school is "fired up that she gets to graduate with her classmates."
"She's a model citizen. She's one of our best," the principal said. "She's a well-liked kid and she's involved in the school and the community. You can't find too many better."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.