What do you remember from when you were 3 months old? I have the answer to that one – a whole lot of nothing. Now, imagine being told that you must return to the land that you born in, a place you left as an infant, a place you have no connection to after living far, far away in a different country for almost your entire life. That would be a shocking life turn and one that is reportedly happening to 30-year-old Kairi Abha Shepherd.
The woman, who lives in Salt Lake City, is attempting to stay in the country despite efforts to deport her to her native land of India, after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that she is in the country illegally. Ms. Shepherd was adopted when she was baby, but her adoptive mother died when she was 8 and hadn’t ever submitted the required paperwork to ensure that her adoptive daughter was not just legally adopted, but also a U.S. citizen.
Ms. Shepard had reportedly been jailed after a probation violation stemming from a guilty plea to a felony charge of forgery. Her case then fell into the hands of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department, who began working on her deportation. But the thing is, Ms. Shepard reportedly has no ties to India. “I think she took a geography class in high school where she learned about India,” her lawyer said. “She doesn’t speak the language, she has no connection whatsoever. She’s American through and through.” And what makes her case even worse? She reportedly has multiple sclerosis as well as other health issues. “The deportation order, which may force me to part from my physicians, family, and friends here, could be a death sentence to me,” Ms. Shepard said.
And to add even more bad luck to her situation, she is too old to get automatic citizenship, with CBS Denver saying that, “Congress passed a law granting automatic citizenship to foreign adopted children, but it applied to those who were under 18 on February, 27, 2001, when it took effect. Shepherd, born on April 1, 1982, is 11 months too old to qualify, the courts ruled in declaring her an ‘alien.’”
“There are thousands of people who were internationally adopted and aren’t U.S. citizens,” said Chuck Johnson, who is a spokesman for the National Council For Adoption. “They’re finding out that they don’t have it [citizenship] when they apply for scholarships, passports, the military, or in tragic cases, they have committed a crime, they’re considered an immigrant and they’re deported.”
Ms. Shepard’s team of lawyers is working hard to try to keep her in the United States, the only home she has ever known. Do you think that the immigration laws for adopted children should be amended for situations like this?