Fate of Indian American Orphan Hangs in Balance

Washington, May 24 (IANS): The fate of an Indian American woman facing the prospect of deportation 30 years after she came to the US as an adopted infant hangs in the balance with no official word on her strange case.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, which first reported the case, Kairi Abha Shepherd was adopted in 1982 by a Utah woman as a three-month-old child.

But when she was eight, her adoptive mother died of cancer. When she was 17, she was arrested and convicted of felony cheque forgery to fuel a drug habit.

Now 30, she is facing likely deportation after a court earlier this month upheld the US government's right to remove her from the country.

Judge Scott Matheson, in a 23-page decision, wrote that the court simply didn't have jurisdiction over determining Shepherd's legal status.

Asked about her case, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters: "This is a DHS (Department of Homeland Security) matter, given that she is an Indian citizen who's being sent back to India."

But the DHS would not comment on individual cases and the Indian Embassy here had no information about it either.

The Indian consulate in San Francisco, however, acknowledged that its "attention has been drawn to the media reports regarding alleged deportation of Ms. Kairi Shepherd to India".

The consulate, it said, was "currently ascertaining the facts of the matter" following a message "from some concerned individuals" forwarded by India's ministry of external affairs.

"The Consulate's main priority is to ensure the welfare of Indian nationals. So far we have not been approached by any local government authorities regarding any deportation of Ms. Shepherd," the consulate said.

Meanwhile, fearing deportation Shepherd remains in hiding as a group of lawyers who have volunteered to represent her contemplate an appeal to the US Supreme Court - that may be her last resort.


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